Life or Death: A Look at My Choice
“See I have set before you today
LIFE and prosperity
and DEATH and adversity…
The blessing and the curse. So choose LIFE that you might live” (Deuteronomy 31:15)
Moses says this to the people of Israel just before they cross into the Promised Land. Moses is giving one last charge from the Lord to His people Israel before Moses will die, and Israel will begin their journey. Here, at the end of his life, Moses leads them to this place:
You can choose LIFE and have prosperity (the Blessing)….
You can choose DEATH and have adversity (the Curse).
These words have always been like arrows that have pierced me to the very core. It is so, so, very simple….and yet I fail to see it often. My success in life is a choice.
As I began opening the book of Ruth, I find familiarity with the characters from this story and from the context that they are living in. I relate to them because they are faced with the same cross road that I find myself in -- I want blessing and success, but will I trust God and obey Him, believing that He will prosper me?
At the crossroads, Ruth and Boaz both choose Life without hesitation, and we can see them reap the prosperity of obedience to the Lord. On the other hand, not everyone chooses well: Naomi’s husband Elimelech, Orpah, and the closer relative make poor choices and are left with the resulting outcomes of adversity. Then there is Naomi -- much of her life is spent on the fence -- choosing God as her God (her salvation), but then not choosing to obey Him in the daily choices of obedience (her daily walk). Naomi suffers as she is pulled between the two choices.
I understand these characters because they each show a picture of what my heart has looked like. They stand out like symbols of what I can choose and how I can live my life. They call me back to make my own decision.
It is not a choice I have to make without it being explained to me. Aside from the examples of our characters in the book of Ruth, Moses also takes time to teach about the two options. He spends 111 verses explaining the choice of Life or Death, and he sums it up in Deuteronomy 30:15-20.
In essence Moses says that I can choose to “love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways…that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering.. (verses 16).”
If I choose to allow my “heart to turn away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish (verses 17-18).”
The two options are laid out clearly and concisely. I can choose Life by loving God and obeying Him or I can choose Death, not obeying God and letting my heart turn away to worship other gods.
And yet even though I understand what God is telling me, I pause like Naomi between the two choices. In a way it is a scary decision to staunchly choose life when other paths seem better or easier. Logic makes obeying Jesus the clear answer and still I find that my stubborn will causes me to pause.
I have found that even though I know that God is Lord, my flesh doesn’t want to submit and worship Him, admitting that His way is the way that is best for me. I really want to worship something else. I want to worship me. I want to do what I want. I want to choose my appetite, lusts, and cravings. I want to bring shining glory upon myself. In essence my fleshly desires are no different than Lucifer’s.
“But you (Satan) said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God… I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14: 13-14)
Satan gives us a perfect example of what Moses is trying to convey. We all know the consequences of Satan's choice, and I don’t think many would argue that it is anything but death and adversity. Isaiah 14:15 states it like this: “you (Satan) will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit.”
Even knowing this, even after I have chosen God in my salvation, I still find that I have a hard time daily choosing to follow Christ until I remember the kindness of God. As I look back over Deuteronomy 31:15-20 a couple of things stand out as kind:
- God gives me a chance to choose life or death. He does not make it for me or force my hand. I am free.
- God explains natural consequences of my choices: He makes no threats but gives facts.
- God gives me all the information so that I can make an informed choice.
- God pleas for me to make the choice that will bring Him glory and bring me a life of blessing and prosperity.
The observations that begin to soften my hard heart are seen even more clearly in Joshua chapter 1. After Moses is dead, God gives Joshua as a leader to the people of Israel, and then God speaks directly to Joshua.
“Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.”
I can hear the kind heart of our Lord so clearly in His words to Joshua. God knows that it is not easy for us to choose to obey and to follow Him. I think that is why He takes so much time to lay it all out. He gives us clear options so that we can trust Him and believe Him. Then He calls us to “be strong and courageous” in making the choice to follow Him.
This kind voice of God reminds me of Aslan speaking to Lucy in the Chronicles of Narnia:
“COURAGE DEAR HEART”
It takes courage to choose Life.
That’s what makes Ruth and Boaz such compelling people. They were courageous. They loved and obey the Lord their God. They chose Life and the result was that God gave them abundant life and prosperity.
That’s what I want. Therefore, I will be strong and courageous, I will choose Life.
As you ponder this choice, join us in our study of Ruth and see for yourself how this choice affects yourself and those around you. Come and trust the Lord by witnessing the lives of people that choose Life.
And as someone who has tasted the goodness of the Lord’s blessings, I want to echo the Lord’s plea: Be strong and courageous, choose Life!
Hannah Michael Wolfkill Snyder has always loved all of her names (yes, each one is on her passport!). However, the name she loves the most is Jesus. Jesus taught her how to play in the throne room of Heaven and sit in the lap of God the Father. This is her identity, where her heart loves to abide (even if her hands and feet are busy on earth running a household or meeting up with people). Because of her joy in the Father, her heart’s desire is to show women their God given identity in the kingdom of Heaven. You can find her on Instagram.