Freedom to Choose
Several years ago, I was out running errands after some early morning meetings. It was about 11:30AM and I could tell that my blood sugar (I am diabetic—“glucose”) were “in the tank.” I decided to make a quick decision to eat at McDonald’s while I could still function and pass as “normal.”
I stepped into Micky Dees at about a quarter till twelve. The counter had already filled up several people deep, so I made the choice to get in line behind this rather kind-looking grandmother with a child of about five years old. My reason for choosing to get in line with her was simple – if not simplistic: my blood sugar was low and screaming to the floor. She did not look like someone who would take a long time making a decision. I thought I was safe and soon, life-giving food would be in my mouth so I could once again prove I had an IQ higher than my Pet Rock.
I was wrong—really, very, sadly, wrong.
As I stood behind “Grandma,” I heard those words no adult on some kind of schedule ever wants to hear. She bent down to “Billy” and asked, “So what do you want Grandma to get you today?”
My inner child (and every other voice in my head) began to scream an anguished “noooooo!”
She was going to give a five-year-old a choice?
I was desperately trying to cling to lucidity since I could hear my blood sugar and sanity screaming to the ground like some kind of evil dive-bomber. All I wanted was a Quarter Pounder with cheese (I would scrape off the onions, pickles, ketchup and mustard – I like mine “plain” but no time for niceties), fries, an apple pie (hey, you get the munchies when your blood sugar gets this low) and a drink. Now the Grandmother who I thought was so sweet (and decisive) is playing twenty questions with a five-year-old!
Luckily, I was able to appear calm, collected and sane on the outside, but inside I was having a major apoplectic fit. After what seemed to be an eternity, Junior made up his mind. Trying to maintain my equilibrium, I stepped to the counter as the nice lady asked me what I wanted.
Too late, Jimmy-boy!
My blood sugar was so low, I forgot what I wanted! I ended up with a Filet-O-Fish, fries, a soda, a huge headache and probably five people behind me wondering if the local Mental Hospital had early-released another one of their patients!
Our ability to make choices is a powerful and wonderful freedom. As we study Scripture, we come to understand only those who have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ actually have the freedom to choose. In 1 Peter we who are a “chosen race” were also called “out of darkness into His [Christ’s] marvelous light.” We were stumbling around in the dark before Christ brought us into the light. In Ephesians Paul tells us before Jesus Christ brought us to Him we were spiritually dead; unable to make any choices because, well, dead people don’t make many choices.
If a choice is truly great, then where is its freedom? Paul wrote to the Roman Christians those who refuse to recognize God – and Paul states the evidence of God’s existence is everywhere in Creation – God removes from them the ability to “choose” Him when they are again in the presence of the Gospel message. They refuse the obvious evidence of God’s existence and then God will “deliver them over in the cravings of their hearts.” There is one thing always worse than not getting what you want: it is getting it.
Paul reveals in 2 Thessalonians there will come a time when those who have refused God’s offer of salvation – God’s offer to give people their only “real” choice – will no longer have a choice. Paul tells his readers “lawlessness is already at work” in this world, but the time will come when “the one now restraining [the Holy Spirit in believer’s lives]” will be taken “out of the way.” When this occurs, those who have refused the offer of salvation will lose their ability to choose! They “will believe what is false” because God will send “them a strong delusion.”
Spooky stuff – downright frightening actually – but all of this highlights the power and importance of the choice God gives us now. God is a God of second chances, we see this demonstrated over and again in the Bible and in life. Many people can testify to the fact they have received “second chances” and the ability to “choose again.”
The ability to choose is a great freedom. Unfortunately, we rarely recognize something as a “freedom” until it’s gone.