The concept of choice is all around us. Neighborhoods are riddled with eating establishments, each with a long list of items from which to select, not only to curb our appetites, but to quench our thirsts and tickle our sweet tooth. We even have choices to make in selecting the type of gasoline we will put in our autos, which auto dealership we will go to pick out one from the various options on the lot, and where to get that same car washed and waxed. With so many choices, no wonder we have such a hard time deciding things on occasion. I visited the local Lowe's yesterday in hopes of securing some plants for my garden, fencing material to enclose my composter, ant killer to do away with a couple of pesky ant hills in my yard, and fertilizer to put around the trees. Nothing is harder than making selections when you have so many choices, but I knew exactly what I was after. There is only one type of insecticide I like to use, but when it is mixed in with the myriad of others, it made it a little harder to secure my choice. Then I have to choose the fertilizer. Did I want 13-8-8, 10-10-10, or just Ironite? The choices are unending! I settled on what I wanted, but left disappointed. Why? They didn't have the one thing I wanted - a lavender plant. If they did, I couldn't find it anywhere! What I did find were a variety of "look alike" plants which mimicked lavender in appearance. Each time I thought I had landed upon a lavender plant, it was something else. Isn't it good to know the choices in terms of our salvation are clear - there is but ONE way to God and that is through his Son, Jesus. There is but ONE God we must obey. There is but ONE God who asks for our worship. Don't get me wrong - the world puts a whole lot of choices out there for us - but there is only ONE correct choice! All others are "look alike" choices, but they just aren't the real deal!
You, Lord, are my choice, and I will obey you. With all my heart I beg you to be kind to me, just as you have promised. I pay careful attention as you lead me, and I follow closely. As soon as you command, I do what you say. Evil people may set a trap, but I obey your Law. Your laws are so fair that I wake up and praise you in the middle of the night. I choose as my friends everyone who worships you and follows your teachings. Our Lord, your love is seen all over the world. Teach me your laws. (Psalm 119:57-64 CEV)
When we make God our first and ONLY choice, the natural outcome is the desire to obey what he asks of us. It may seem a little contrary to what comes naturally to us, and that is because it is contrary to our tendency to look for the "variety" in choices we have all around us. God's way is clearly marked out and it is a pretty defined way - one way in, one way to stay on course, one way to our destination - eternity spent in his presence. The idea of obedience is more than just doing what you are asked, though. It is doing what you know to be right - even when no one is asking, or watching!
Obedience begins in being careful to direct our attention away from all which distracts us and maintaining our focus. I went to to the store yesterday with a specific list in mind. Yep, the displays distracted me a little, but really I did not buy anything I did not have on my "list". The list helped to keep me on track - to help me maintain focus. Sometimes we need to rely upon "running the list" in our minds a little in order to focus on the stuff God wants us to keep in the forefront of our minds. What is in the forefront is often what we give focus to - so figuring out how to keep what he wants there and limiting the input he doesn't is paramount to obedience.
Look at what else the psalmist says about this thing we call obedience - it is aided by those we select as companions in our journey. When we choose friends wisely, the journey is made easier. Why? The choices also concern them - they want to make the right choices, as well. We act as "reminders" to each other as to the determination to make the right choices. Maybe this is why so many groups exist to help people stay "focused" on their goals such as losing weight as a member of Weight Watchers, staying sober as a part of an AA group, or even staying physically fit by being part of a spinning class.
The last thing I'd like to consider today deals with what we choose to get into our minds. God's plan is for us to be rightly related to him first, rightly related to others second, and then to allow the Word to get into us so we know how to live "right" within these relationships. You will always hear me commenting about the importance of getting the Word of God into our lives. It is the ONE thing which will help us maintain focus and be there when we are faced with choices to veer off-course. It is the ONE thing which can settle the troubled mind. It is the ONE thing which can guide our decision-making when so many choices exist for us in this world today. Since it is this important to use, isn't it apparent how much we need to get it into us?
Obedience is a matter of choice. Choice is a matter of clarity - knowing our focus. Have the right focus - make the right choices. Just sayin!