As I stood near her casket (like most preachers do at funerals), I noticed the number of diverse people who had come to pay their last respects. Some wept quietly, some stoic and somber, while others lingered, making me wonder what had been left undone.
An overwhelming thought came over me as I stood there, one that I could not escape, it was about choices. I started to wonder what kind of choices this person had during her lifetime, before the finality of this day.
After joining the Air Force I spent the next thirty years living life. I moved away so I had only seen her once in the past thirty years. Yet I had heard many stories of purported bad choices that she had made. She had been involved in a terrible automobile accident that some say was caused by her choice to drink and drive. There were other, tragic stories of her abuse of alcohol and ultimately drug addiction. I caught myself feeling sad as I stood there praying that she had made the LAST right choice.
I became overwhelmed by the realization that one day, death will, one day to find me and people will pass by me and a preacher will be standing by my casket. That moment was very sobering for me.
I wondered what those who would come would think about my life and the choices that I had made. A cold chill came over my body as I reflected on my life and the choices I had made in my sixty-plus years of life on this earth.
The first seventeen years were uneventful. I made good choices by avoiding alcohol and drugs. Believe it or not, there wasn’t much of a drug problem in L.A. (Lincoln, Alabama) in the early 1970’s. I stayed away from the few people that did them. It meant losing some friends, but it again comes down to choices doesn’t it? On any given day we make a choice to go down a path that is less traveled, sometimes finding yourself all alone and unable to find your way back.
At the age of eighteen, an event happened that brought me to my own crossroads, that one way or the other would change my life forever. May 12, 1971, at a small church in Talladega, Al, a choice had to be made. I could stay on the darkened path leading to the abyss I had been heading toward, or I could turn right toward Almighty God.
I chose God.
I gave up a girlfriend that I thought I could not live without. I even gave up a few close friends that I had grown up with, but I did it willingly and with all my heart, knowing from the beginning that the greatest choice anyone can make in this life is to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Because of that choice, God brought someone into my life that became my best friend and is a part of me. Our relationship has lasted over forty years; we have two sons and eight grandchildren. One good choice can bring such great meaning to life!
If I am to be honest, it hasn’t always been roses and sunshine. Because of some terrible choices I made later on in our marriage, it almost destroyed us both. Only the power of God was able to bring us back together by allowing us to make the choice to restore everything my bad choices had damaged. God allows second chances!
Maybe, just maybe, God has me writing this to remind me that life will continue and choices will have to be made. Perhaps He has you reading this article because He wants you to make a choice that can change your life forever. Perhaps you are at a crossroads and the choice you make will affect the rest of your life.
There is a story in the bible that is a good illustration of choices. Luke 23:32-33 tells of two men who met Jesus while hanging on a cross, one on His left and one on his right. Both men were at a crossroad and the choices they had made before, as well the choices they made as they hung on those crosses, affected them that day and throughout eternity.
One man criticized Jesus, saying “If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.”
The other rebuked him, saying, “… we receive the reward of our deeds.” He then said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”
Jesus responded, “…Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.”
What a choice one thief made!!! What a choice the other thief made! Each a choice, each with different destinations!
Every day of our lives we are like these thieves having choices to make. Life and death choices!
Each day brings new choices for us to make. What choices are you dealing with today? Divorce? Suicide? Getting help for depression or just being grateful for this day because God has given us free choice.
Remember this: God has the answer for the choices we make in this life. His grace helps us make the right choices in life when the choice is based on His word, prayed through, and cried over!
Joshua 24:15 says it so well. “And if it seems evil to you to serve… the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Choices, we all make them don’t we!
Thank you to our guest blog this week Mic Barnett. Your light has definitely sparkled today!
Mic Barnett lives in Alabama and graduated from College of Air Force. He has been married for forty-one years to Dot, and they have two sons and eight grandchildren. His favorite pastime is playing and telling stories to his grandchildren while keeping healthy with exercise. His role as an evangelist is to “Spread the light! Spread the light!”