We make an astounding number of choices every day.
Several internet sources estimate that the average adult makes about 35,000 conscious decisions every day. That’s a lot of decisions. Some of those decisions are repetitive. Every morning when I get up, the first decision I have to make as I walk out of the bedroom is whether or not to make a cup of coffee. Oh, that’s an easy decision! The answer is always yes.
We make decisions about what to eat, what to wear, we select locations for meetings, and even determine whether not to have the meetings. We make choices about who we will be involved with in business and in life. We make choices upon choices every day.
Some of these choices are innocuous and don’t seem to have any significant impact on anything of consequence. Others are obviously important from the moment we begin to consider them, and require a great deal of thought, planning, and prayer. The difference between making good choices and the choices can sometimes come down to the advice you choose to listen to (or ignore), the people you choose to trust (or not trust), or even the resources you have at hand (or don’t have). There are even television game shows dedicated to making choices and rewarding the good ones with prizes.
Of course, there are decisions that we all recognize as important ones. Do we accept the job offer before us? Do we ask the person we’re currently dating to marry us? Or, if you’ve been asked, do you accept the proposal? Some choices have obvious significance. But the significance of many choices can only be seen in retrospect.
I know of a young girl whose family was driving to her grandmother’s house for a visit. The child, her mom, her cousin, and her sister went and hopped into the car. The mom, of course, was driving. The older sister slid into the front seat. The younger sister and cousin hopped in the back. Because she didn’t often get to spend time with her cousin, the younger sister decided to sit in the middle seat to be closer to her cousin. Two minutes into the drive a woman who was clearly not paying attention ran through a stop sign. Her car slammed into the rear door where the girl chose not to sit. Rescue personnel later told them that anyone who had been sitting in that seat would have been killed.
Today’s verse may not seem to fit with that illustration yet, but I think it well by the time we’re through today.
I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE
What about you? Have you ever made a decision that altered the course of your life?
A couple of poor students who attended a university in New Zealand had been spending some vacation time in Sweden with family. Traveling back to school, they decided to spend a little extra money and change their flight so they could connect through Paris instead of Amsterdam. They’d never seen the Eiffel Tower, and thought it would be a fun experience. Altogether, it cost them an extra $50. On 17 July 2014 they got to see the famous tower on approach, as the plane was landing, and again on takeoff a couple of hours later. They never actually set foot in Paris, though, because after making the flight change they didn’t have the money to get into the city.
It wasn’t until they landed in Auckland, New Zealand and saw the news that the actual impact of their choice struck them. Before they changed their flight, the students had originally been booked on Malaysian Airlines flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur as the first leg of their trip back to school. On 17 July 2014 that aircraft was shot down by a Russian-made shoulder-fired missile. All 283 passengers and 15 crew were killed.
Their lives were saved by a random choice.
Choices have consequences. They always do. Even random ones. Sometimes major, sometimes not. It’s just not always easy to see those consequences upfront.
Amid all of the choices we face in life, there are choices we all recognize as important ones. We all do our best to get those ones right, because the potential consequences are clearly significant. When you’re making important choices, sometimes you appreciate the help you can get from others.
I mentioned television game shows dedicated to making choices and rewarding the good ones. One of the best known is the British show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Contestants have to answer 15 multiple-choice questions of increasing difficulty. If they answer correctly, their winnings increase; make one wrong choice and lose it all. The grand prize is some recognized aspirational cash figure, such as one million dollars in the US, one million pounds in the UK, or 70 million rupees (7 crore) in India. Along the way, contestants get to use up to three “lifelines,” opportunities to get help in making the right choice. The first lifeline is “Ask the audience,” and the studio audience will vote on the correct answer. The second lifeline is “Phone a friend,” and they can call one of 5 pre-arranged friends who can help with the answer.
The final lifeline is “50/50,” where two of the incorrect answers are eliminated, leaving the right choice and one wrong choice on the screen.
While a million dollars may seem like a huge prize to win, it pales in comparison to the choice you’ll make about eternity. Thankfully, THAT does not need to be a random choice.
When you consider whether to believe the claims of Jesus the Messiah, one approach is to follow the rules of the game show.
You could begin by “asking the audience” and seeing what the people around you think about Jesus. But in the game show and in life, there’s no guarantee that the masses will make the right choice. Come to think of it, Jesus did mention that the road that leads to perdition is WIDE, and most of the folk will choose that one because it’s easier. So maybe asking the audience isn’t the best approach.
Of course, “phone a friend” may be worth a try. But then again, even though you get to pick five pre-arranged friends for your list, you do only get to actually ask your question to ONE of them. What if their view of Jesus isn’t correct? It’s a big risk, because if you make the wrong choice you lose it all. Ouch!!
It’s time to make a decision guaranteed to alter the course of your eternity, not just your life. And in the final analysis, the choice you have to make comes down to “50/50.” And that’s actually a very good illustration.
You see, eternity only has two choices. Heaven or hell.
I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE