Thursday, May 16, 2013

One choice at a time

     "Christian character is shaped less by your big, dramatic decisions than by the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of simple obedience.  Those small acts shape our character and prepare our hearts to accept even more bold assignments from God.  They are the building blocks for a life that God truly blesses.  Godliness is both the result and the reward of these mini battles, fought and won dozens of times each day to resist sin and look for ways to make life better for others."  Clare De Graff
     "Train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." (I Tim.4:7-8)
     Those innumerable, seemingly small and insignificant choices we make each day are slowly, inevitably forming our character.  And that character is being built brick by brick into a solid wall of either integrity or dishonesty; discipline or dissipation; strength or weakness.  We are either decision by decision, day by day, growing to be more like Jesus or pulling further and further away from Him and His kingdom.
     That's where training comes in--like an athlete daily running drills or hitting shot after shot after shot or running hills in the pre-dawn darkness--constant, consistent training in doing what's right and refusing to do what's wrong. And not just in the big, splashy decisions but in the tiny choices about which no one may ever know but God alone.
     But it's in those fires of dailyness, daily choices, that our character is forged.
     It's funny--we fail to realize the power of the moment, don't we?  Sure, hindsight is twenty twenty, but so often in the heat or excitement--or even humdrum--of the moment, we little suspect how this insiginifcant little choice to do something or withhold something or say something or not say something, can have eternal repercussions in our lives.  Maybe nothing immediate, but as a book Peter and I read last year, described it, we are all building our "character houses."   Some actions add to the house, strengthen it, beautify it... while other actions tear off some boards, damage the siding or even destroy the foundation of our character houses.
     So today, I'm asking God to enable me to faithful in the small things.  That's all we really have anyway, isn't it?  Simple, small obedience in what God has placed right before us. I'm not worrying about what He asks me to do next month or next week.  Rather, what has He placed before us right now? Will we heed His still, small voice... today, this minute?  
     It could mean choosing to take the low place and serving rather than seeking to be served.  Or pray before we say... anything!  Or being intentional about thanking God for the gift of a regular day--a day without car accidents or cancer or broken bones or hurricanes.  And thanking others--even for the smallest kindnesses.
      Or refusing to complain--"Do all things without grumbling or questioning" (Phil.2:14).  Boy, I have a long way to go on that one--so easy to slip into the grumbling mode--the weather, the wait at the stoplight, our irritable child, our busy schedule...  Forgive us Father!  Teach us what it means to be Your grateful, non-grumbling, joyful children!
     I love how C.S.Lewis puts all this:
                 "...every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses into something a little different from what it was before.  And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature; either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself... Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other."
     And it's all our choice... one day at a time.  One decision at a time.  O Lord, help us to choose wisely.
     To God be the glory.


  1. So this doesn't have anything to do with today's blog, but I have a question for you. How do you allow yourself to feel unpleasant emotions (sadness, disappointment, anger, loneliness) when you are let down by people in your life while at the same time handing those things over to God? Is it necessary to process the emotions that we feel and if so what lens can we do that through so that glory is brought to God even when we are not our best selfs?

    1. Hi. Sorry to be slow to respond--some days I get to the blog (because life intervenes!). Such a great question. And I'm clearly no theologian or pastor, so I'm ill equipped to answer. But I'm going to sort of try to address this (how's that for equivocating!) in a blog entry I'm about to start writing in a moment. yes, we are to feel those emotions. God gave them to us, and look at the Psalms: full of real, raw emotion of anger, fear, discouragement. God wants us to open up our hearts to Him--He already knows what we are thinking anyway. But then we take those emotions to the cross. Continually. Not just daily--sometimes it's an hourly or even moment by moment choice to keep taking it to Him over and over. We can't forgive in our own strength--it has to be Him doing it through us in the power of the Holy Spirit. He enables us as we keep taking it to Him again and again. And then we trust that He will use even our faltering attempts to love the unlovable and forgive the unforgivable to bring glory to His Name. And here's how we know He can do it--He's done it with us! We are the unlovable ones. We are the unforgivable ones. We are the ones who deserve condemnation. And instead He gives us grace. So how can we not extend it to others. O mercy, I've just gone on and on! But there you have it--my non-theological, simple but wordy answer!