Life is an endless process of making choices. Each decision we make is a choice to conform to someone, something, or some ideology. We make decisions every hour of every day. The question we must ask ourselves is this: to whom or to what are we choosing to conform?
With each decision we make we are either choosing to conform to our own will, God’s will, societal pressures, peer pressures, political ideologies, or something else. Not only is every decision a decision to conform, but every decision is also a decision of nonconformity. When we choose in favor of one thing, we choose against something else.
There are times when we choose to conform to the ways of the flesh, by succumbing to the allure of wealth, power, and pleasure rather than conforming to the ways of the spirit. There are times when we choose to conform to our political leanings even when they are at odds with our spiritual beliefs. There are times when we conform to our modern culture in lieu of conforming to the truths found in Scripture. And, of course, there are always those times when we knowingly conform to our will rather than God’s will.
Some of us live a lifetime making bad decisions. Life seems like an endless series of missteps. While no one decision is horribly bad, collectively our decisions steer us away from God. Sometimes we live a good life, only to slip up and make one seriously bad decision that completely alters the direction of our life. As an example, a person could live a good Christian life, but then one day choose to drive after having too much to drink at a party and be forced to live with the consequences of hurting or killing someone as a result of their bad decision. Fortunately, there are those times we choose as best we can, to conform our life to Christ. We have all made our share of bad decisions. We can never un-choose a bad decision, but we can learn from our past and choose to make better decisions going forward.
Choices have both a prospective and retrospective aspect to them. Prior to making a choice, the voices of our thoughts, spirit, and flesh compete for our attention. At decision time, we often make the choice that looks most appealing. Bad decisions often look deceptively good at decision time. Choosing to follow God’s will can look harder and less appealing. After a decision, assuming our decision did not conform to God’s will, the outcome of that bad decision almost always comes packaged with guilt and remorse and wrapped in regret.
As we age, and reflect back on life, we see that the good and the bad choices form a zigzag line. There were times we chose to walk closely in Christ’s footsteps and times when we followed our own path. For some reason, we hold on tightly to the memory of our bad decisions. Long after confessing our sins, we are often haunted by our past. Even the strongest Christians struggle to let go of the past and hand their guilt and regret over to Jesus. Perhaps right now you are holding on tightly to guilt from your past.
The old song Choices by George Jones speaks to today’s topic.
Many of us feel crushed by our past decisions. We can’t change the past, but we can move forward, choosing to conform our will to the will of God. Jesus stands ready to liberate us from our painful memories. We simply need to place our faith and trust in Him and tell Him we are sorry. God loves a contrite heart. We can then live life with the assurance of the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ. Our Heavenly Father stands ready to kill the fatted calf and start the banquet when we return from our wandering ways and once again choose to follow after His Son.
Heavenly Father, show me your ways, teach me your paths. Help me to make good choices in life. Help me to conform my will to your will. Grant me the grace to forget the past, let go of my bad decisions and accept the endless mercy of your Son Jesus Christ. And Father, grant me the ability to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly every day of my life.
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