You did not choose me, but I chose you...I remember the summer I got saved like it was yesterday. It was the best summer of my life and the worst summer of my life. For months, I had been feeling like I was at the end of my rope. I felt lonelier than I'd ever felt. I was angry. I wanted to just die and be done with it all, though I didn't really know why. That summer, I had really connected with a group of people in the dorm. We hung out, went to movies, played spades, cooked meals for each other...it was so much fun! Yet not "enough" fun, I guess, to make me not want to die.
The reality of it was, I see now, that nothing would have been enough. I could have woke up one day a size 6, with a great boyfriend on top of the great friends I found that summer and the job I enjoyed and the winning the election for RHA President and being on the dean's list...and so on...and it still wouldn't have been enough. I would have still yearned for whatever I thought the next thing needed to be or more of what I already had plenty of and still would have wound up stuffing my face full of nachos and chinese food and cheesecake because "more" of something...anything...was all I knew to be about.
That summer, he put two very different believers in my path. One was a fairly new believer. She was very petite with very big hair and was also very vocal about her faith. We met the Fall before in English class. We were discussing Milton's Paradise Lost and I took the opportunity to get on my atheist/agnostic soap box. We'd been debate friends ever since. The second was a sugar cane farmer named Ed. Both loved the Lord and were uncompromising with the gospel.
When I wasn't cooking or playing spades or going to class, I was talking about Jesus with them. I laid out all of my objections and knowledge and facts to disprove creation and miracles and organized religion and they came back with scripture which put me back to faith. It was quite simple: every objection I raised could be brought back to a "but God" and nothing I had learned was static or certain. New discoveries could surface tomorrow and then where would I be? But God had spoken from the beginning, they said, telling us everything we needed to know for life and godliness. He never changed. The question was, where did I want to plant my feet...on the shifting ground of science or the solid rock of the creator of everything?
That July, the arguements had all been made. I had no more "What ifs" or "What abouts" to pull out of my hat. I was left with that one question and God's word. My friends encouraged me to just open the Bible and read, not to prove a point o find a flaw or get ammunition but to know if He really was who they told me He was.
So I did. I went upstairs to room 310 in Babington Hall, laid across my bed and opened the bible. I landed in Ruth and read the whole thing through. At the end I was in tears. It is still a mystery to me why, but I was and I was done. It was true. It was real. It wasn't going to change tomorrow. And, somehow I also knew that it was the "more" I'd been trying to find in friends and fun and food. So, I closed the Bible, rolled over in the bed, looked up at the ceiling and said "Ok. Do whatcha gotta do."
Or did I?
It is so easy to look back over that sequence of events and see my wrestling, my arguing, my thinking, my challenging and then my accepting and surrendering. But God's word is clear: I was chosen. Before Abraham was, before Africa or even one star was in the sky He knew my name and knew that I'd be His. This grace in which I now stand was no more my choice than being born female, or to my particular set of parents. It was no more my choice than a jail term is for an inmate. I am not my own. I was bought with a price. That price was paid before I was a thought on anyone else's mind and He simply, rightfully, claimed His property that day in July of 1994.
This is true for anyone who calls themself "Christian".
And so it is with our lives after salvation. Just as God, despite my sin and my resistance, had his way and claimed what was rightfully His all those years ago, He will have His way still in my life until the day I die. The demands and commands of scripture... to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel, to love, to abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against our souls, to speak truth and honor authorities, to gather with the local church, to be sober-minded and self-controlled, to rejoice in all things...are not suggestions. They are His will for all believers and He will make it so. We might, at times, behave as if we have a choice in the matter. We might even thing that we can determine how far we will go, how faithful we will be, how literal we will take God's word, or how much of our lives we will let it touch. But that just isn't true.
That thought is both freeing and convicting.
We have no justifiable option or exception when it comes to obedience. It is never OK, no matter what the current world view is or what my particular weakness or background or circumstance - it is never OK to disobey what God has commanded. (Oh, let us never confuse grace with leniency or license.) In that moment, our only choice is life or death. Plain and simple. And God has said, choose life that you might live! He will have His way. His will, well, it will be done, period. All disobedience gives us in the meantime is death. So let us agree with God and be at peace with Him, that His will does not have to unfold in spite of us and that we might have life and have it abundantly. Let us not forsake this for some phanthom choice which isn't a choice at all but a lie that would rob us of the joy and peace and all of the other blessings God longs to lavish on those whose hearts are completely His in Christ Jesus!