On a mission trip to Paraguay, I saw an interesting consequence of the abundance of choices. Our small group took a boat up the Paraguay River to minister to the local Guaraní people with health care professionals and a local pastor. At the first village we found a meek group of families living in very modest quarters. Their sturdy homes were made of items they found in nature. Most had dirt floors and none had electricity, yet all of them were healthy and well fed from products found on the land and in the river. Their children were happy and all attended a school that was built by missionaries. We had a joyful time playing, eating, ministering and telling stories. In their secluded place in the world, there was very little influence from the outside world.
The second day, we traveled further up the river to visit another group living at a cattle ranch. Their homes were well built wooden structures left behind by the previous owners of the land, which was once a timber company, before the trees were all removed. There was electricity, running water, gas powered vehicles – and multiple choices of vices. There was no school for the children, yet there was greater opportunity for work and income, which gave them greater choices to pollute their bodies and the land. The health problems in this place were as diverse as the choices for a variety of vices.
Between the two villages, the simpler, less complicated life seemed to be healthier and happier, because there were fewer choices to sin.
Look at the complicated story of King David in the Bible. He had climbed to the top where others were fighting his battles for him. David chose to stay home and hang out on the balcony to watch the pretty ladies bathe on the rooftops on a warm summer evening. The consequences of this one choice led to other bad choices which triggered an unending chain of events.
1) David stayed home instead of going to battle (2 Samuel 11:1).
2) Watched Bathsheba bathe (2 Samuel 11:2).
3) Invited her to his home and slept with her, even though he knew she was married (2 Samuel 11:4).
4) Tried to cover up his sin (2 Samuel 11:13).
5) Murdered Bathsheba’s husband with the stroke of a pen (2 Samuel 11:14-15).
6) Bathsheba had to choose a coffin for her husband (2 Samuel 11:26).
7) David had to choose a coffin for their baby (2 Samuel 12:19).
8) David’s son Amnon slept with David’s daughter Tamar (2 Samuel 13:11-14).
9) Tamar’s life is ruined (2 Samuel 13:20).
10) David chose to do nothing about it (2 Samuel 13:21).
11) David’s son, Absalom, ordered the murder of Amnon because of Tamar (2 Samuel 13:22, 28-29)
12) David’s house was divided (2 Samuel 14:28 – 15:6).
13) Absalom tried to take over the kingdom (2 Samuel 15:10-13).
14) David chose to abandon Jerusalem (2 Samuel 15:23)
15) Ahitophel, Bathsheba’s grandfather/Absalom and David’s counselor, hanged himself in the confusion (2 Samuel 17:23).
16) Absalom died trying to dethrone David (2 Samuel 18:9-15).
17) David’s grandchildren warred among themselves and divided the kingdom (1 Kings 12:20).
David’s first choice to sin was against God. The consequences of his sin continued well beyond his death, even to today.
Are you following God’s plan or your own ill-conceived choices? How is that working for you?
I challenge you to make a choice today, with the same challenge Joshua gave - "And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)
Pastor Jay Merritt