I love the third point about the story of the Garden so much that I’ve made a whole blog about it. (See my previous blog for points one and two.) Great stuff! Here is the third thing that I think is totally cool:
That God gives us a choice.
It is so amazing that God gave Adam and Eve the choice to obey or disobey. Skeptics through the ages have ranted against a God who would allow people to make destructive choices. “How could a loving God not prevent people from hurting themselves and others?” they ask.
But there is such grace in having the ability to make a choice. It feels so wonderful to do the right thing willingly and joyfully, because we choose to do so.
And God always makes sure to tell man the consequences of making the wrong choice. He doesn’t let man just walk blindly into harm’s way. He told Adam and Eve that if they ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they would die.
His message to the Israelites expressed this consistent theme: “Choose today whom you will serve. This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” Deut 30:19
The prophets echoed this:
Seek the LORD and live, or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire; it will devour them . . . . Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you. . . “ Amos 5:6, 14
“Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you Isa 55:3
“Circumcise yourselves to the LORD And remove the foreskins of your heart, Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Or else My wrath will go forth like fire And burn with none to quench it, Because of the evil of your deeds.” Jer 4:4
Continuing to the New Testament, we see that God gave Jesus a choice. This is crazy amazing. I mean, just think about it. God left the salvation of the whole world up to choice. Jesus didn’t have to go to the cross, but he wrestled in prayer to make the decision to do so.
And when Jesus made this choice, God set in motion his age old plan to make it easier for us to make good choices. He said through Jeremiah, “I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them.” (Jer 32:39) With the motivation of Jesus’ sacrifice, and with the indwelling of the Spirit, we do have more of a singleness of heart. We want to do the right thing.
THIS is the goal for God, that we want to serve him, that we want to make the right choices, “not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor 9:7.) In giving man choice, it gave God the opportunity to have the sweetest delights. He loves for man to choose good, to choose HIM! “There is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)
And at the end, when we make it through the finish line, God will rejoice with us as the parable in Matthew 25 expresses, “”Well done, good and faithful servant. . . Come and share your master’s happiness.”
The narrative of the Bible concludes by taking us full circle. Our good choices (and God’s good grace) will bring us back into the Garden. “To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’” Rev. 2:7
Pray with me.
Father, thank you that you’ve given us a choice. I do love you so much, and I want to serve you with my whole heart, and give my life to you, and make you happy. Thank you that you gave us Jesus and the Spirit, and set us up to win. Help me to make good choices today. I really need your help today in choosing ____________________.
Help me remember that there are consequences for my decisions. Help me not to be lackadaisical. I so much want to make it through the finish line and run into your loving arms. I’m only going to be able to make it through dependance on you. Help me to look to you throughout the day, as I make the little choices that set the direction of my future. Have mercy on me when I make the wrong choices, and may I not become bogged down in them, but have the energy to pick myself up and move forward.
I praise you for your plan to redeem us and give us an opportunity to joyfully do the right thing, and give ourselves to you. You are so awesome, and I love you.
In Jesus’ name, amen