Why does God tell us to “choose life?”1 I mean it seems like a no-brainer type of choice. Of course it wasn’t our choice to be born, but it is our choice to live, isn’t it?
God says He’s given us a choice between life and death, blessings and curses and then He almost begs us to make the right choice. “Oh that would choose life.”1
Well, I’m here aren’t I? Of course life. You worried I might try to do myself in or something? Choose life? I mean the other choice really comes with no perks. I mean do you really even have to give a choice? I mean give me a little credit here.
However, then He explains what it means to choose life. God’s definitions are sometimes different from ours. For the children of Israel His definition didn’t include doing whatever they pleased.
“You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying Him and committing yourself firmly to Him.”2
This made the choice more real. There were quite a few laws in the Old Testament days and the children of Israel had already proven they weren’t very good at following them.
God was telling them their everyday choices had to be intentional. He would know and everyone around them would know if they indeed were choosing life. It would be reflected in the everyday choices they made.
The carrot God dangled was a long and prosperous life for them and their children. He says, “Love the Lord your God and … you will live and increase.3 Later He ads that you and your children might live.1
Their choice and their actions would assure them of a legacy.
The choices they made that day lived on throughout the generations. Although today we don’t follow Old Testament laws, it is still true that the choices we make affect those who follow after us.
A great example of this is my father. He grew up with an alcoholic father and grandfather. All his uncles and great uncles were alcoholics. His brothers were headed there as well.
My father, though, saw the tendencies and made the decision that he would be different. He accepted Christ at age 9. By age 15 he had already decided he would enlist in the Marines.
Which he did try but got rejected because his blood pressure was too high, probably because of the lie he had just told about his age. His mother signed for him to go into the service at age 17.
After serving in the Korean War, he used his G.I. bill to go to college, getting a bachelor’s degree in Bible. He worked full time and preached where and when he could.
He led many of his family to Christ and raised us to love God with everything within us.
I shudder to think what my family would be like today had dad not chosen life in all the ramifications.
The New Testament version of choose life goes like this, “My desire is to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect‑life in its fullness until you overflow.”4
Jesus is teaching the disciples through the Parable of the Good Shepherd, which essentially says the sheep know, listen, hear and follow His voice. The follow where the Good Shepherd leads.
In the New Testament version this overwhelmingly awesome life comes when we follow Christ, not necessarily religion or rules.
That may seem easier, but in reality it may be more cut and dried to follow rules than to be in relationship. Maintaining a relationship is a 24-7 job. To follow Christ we must remain in constant communication.
We must know where He’s headed at any moment.
Part of it is simple. We have His book. We can read it and begin to understand His heart. We can talk to Him all the time and listen for His response that may come through a sense or a knowing of what to do next or even a circumstantial direction.
This type of life is risky, challenging, faith-based. Sometimes it feels a lot like stepping out into thing air not really knowing if there will be ground beneath your foot when it comes down.
This is the kind of thing my father did every day. He did it for a better life for himself and his family. He did it to leave a Godly legacy.
Of all he did for us, I’m so grateful for two. First, he turned the tide of alcohol addiction in our branch of the family. Second, he taught us to love Jesus.
When I got introduced the idea that I was a sugar addict, I began to understand the connection between alcohol and sugar addiction.
They are so closely related that many experts say if you have alcoholism or diabetes in our family, it is highly likely you have the genetic makeup to become both or one or the other.
Because of my father’s conscious choice and his cautions regarding alcohol, I didn’t go that direction. He didn’t know to warn me about sugar, though.
However, by my conscious choice today, I hope to turn the tide for future generations of my family.
You see, it can start with one. It started with my dad, the first in our family to get a college degree. My brother was the first in our family to get a master’s.
Today, my family is so aware that we live under the promise of this scripture. My dad choose life so that he and his children could live.
And now it is up to us to do the same, so that our children will live. It is in the passing on of the legacy that each generation makes this conscious choice to choose life.
1 Deut. 30:19 NIV
2 Deut 30:20 NLT
3 Deut. 30:16 NLT
4 John 10:10 Passion
Sweet Change Weight Loss Coaching & Accountability Group is Teresa Shields Parker’s new group on living healthy through a total renovation of body, soul and spirit. Teresa chronicles her journey in the memoir, Sweet Grace, and the practical application workbook, Sweet Grace Study Guide. Get a free chapter of her memoir at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.