Aha Moments

It’s Always Our Choice: A Testimony

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” (Deut. 30:19, KJV)

I was thinking of my life recently. Particularly, I was wondering why I care about God.

Please don’t interpret that statement as sacrilegious. I simply mean that I wanted to know why I’d always felt God’s presence in my life and why others act like they don’t give Him a second thought.

This isn’t me being haughty, either. I know I’m not the only one who cares about God—I know several godly adults.

I was just wondering about my story.

It’s not like I’m a specific breed of humanity: I wasn’t born spiritual. Why did I care about God when so many people who were raised in Christian homes never did?

I thought that it might be because I tend to wonder about the essence of things and why everything is the way that it is. I like going deeper and questioning what others debate or take for granted.

It’s just my nature, and I assumed that might be why. After all, wasn’t that the reason I was philosophizing?

But that can’t be the only reason. Wanting to understand my parents’ faith may be how I began my journey toward God, but it couldn’t have ended there. After all, there are many famous philosophers who are atheists and agnostics.

My tendency to question and prove deeper wasn’t why I grew closer to God, even though I love finding God’s hidden gems in Scripture. No, it had to be something else.

Then a few scenes came to my mind. I experienced a vivid mental picture of getting bullied as a ten-year-old, and I remembered crying out to God.

I also remembered not getting any immediate help from Him and making no friends that year (or the two years prior).

I remembered wondering why God would let this happen and why God would let me feel so much hurt, but I also remembered somehow knowing that He had a reason for it.

Then I realized that I’d already grown closer to God by then, even if that experience did bring me closer to my Jesus, my Ever-Faithful Friend.

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So again I asked myself, what made me care about God? Then another memory surfaced: I was praying to God for some loose change so that Mom could afford to buy me candy, and then finding some coins on the street within the next second.

I smiled with nostalgia as I thought on that.

As that memory left, God brought forward another for my inspection: a child-version of me, hiding from strangers and having frequent nightmares. A child-version of me, crying and seeing horrors in each shadow.

I remember I’d hide beneath tables and look fearfully at one corner of our house. I’d also refuse to be alone in any room.

My parents looked at me with worry because I’d been fearless for so long that they didn’t understand this development in my life, especially since I’d been so independent until then.

Someone even claimed that a demon was taunting me. It was possible: some of my family had a history with witchcraft, after all.

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In response, my ever-worried Mom prayed for me and put up posters of verses in my room. She told me to say them before bed and pray before I slept.

I did exactly as she said, and after a rigorous routine of Bible verses and prayer, the nightmares and fears I had went away.

I was no longer scared to dream. I was no longer scared of the dark, either, or of being alone.

My parents were ecstatic and my Mom hugged me: God had answered our prayers!

Later, I asked God for a sister, wishing not to feel alone while Mom took ill, again, and Dad was busy working. I was fervent and hopeful as I petitioned God. And after some time, God answered my prayers: He gave me Andrea.

Andrea and I fought and fought, but I loved her and she loved me. Again, God had given me a wonderful answer to prayer.

Then I prayed for my asthma to go away. The nurses and doctors were there to help me, and the machines they moved me toward were there to help me breath, but I didn’t know that. Or maybe I did know it in my head, but my heart was harder to convince.

Naturally, I fought them, and though I was only five, it took a couple nurses to hold me in place. My Mom cried as Dad tried to calm her down. She cried because I was scared, and with tears she prayed that I could go home with them that night. God said yes, and we all went home.

And for the first time in my memory, God said no.

Of course, that was not the end. I found Mom in her room, praying and sobbing uncontrollably, and I asked her to stop. I told her that if she trusted God, she should stop crying when she prayed. That’s not good doctrine, I know that (now), but I knew very little then.

But God answered our prayers when we came to America when I was seven, and I haven’t had an asthma attack since.

I realized that God was working in me to mold me closer and closer to His image.

It was great, until the bullying began. I prayed, through my unending tears and ugly hiccups, that I would be able to speak English well. That I would make friends. That the bullies would stop. That the teacher would finally listen to me.

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And for the first time in my memory, God said no. And the year after that. And the year after that.

It wasn’t until sixth grade that I made a friend again, and I cherished that friendship all the more for it.

I pondered this until I realized something: God’s a genius! He’d been extending the time I had to wait for Him to supply my needs. And then, He’d taught me to accept it when His answer was no. He’d been teaching me the nature of prayer this whole time!

And as I thought of how much I care about “the little guys” and how much I despise gossip and bullying, I realized that God was working in me to mold me closer and closer to His image. My experiences helped me see the importance of standing up for myself, for others, and for my God–my Only-Constant Friend.

How could I not be close to God when He’s been drawing me to Himself my whole life? How could I not be close to God when He’s been my Abba, my Mentor, and my Faithful and Only-Constant Friend?

But that still brought on the question of why I was a rarity for my age demographic. I know that God draws other people to Himself, too, especially if they’re His children (no matter how wayward they may be). But it’s all in how we respond, isn’t it?

I remember a particular occasion when I felt that God was leading me to talk to one of my Christian friends about changing her life. So, I asked her if we could take a walk around the school, and she agreed.

I can definitely track the progress of her life to key moments when she could have made a different choice, a better choice (usually regarding her friends), but just didn’t.

For thirty minutes I spoke with her earnestly, begging her to rethink her close friendship with some precious–but ungodly–people, begging her to care about God, and begging her to take a stand for the truth instead of following the crowds.

She gave the typical excuses, saying that it wasn’t easy for her, that she wasn’t  like me, and that she didn’t know what I expected her to do. I sighed but knew that she wasn’t under my care: she was an adult.

He didn’t say, “You will serve the LORD,” or, “Your children will serve the LORD.” Instead, he said “choose.”

God gave her the freedom to choose, just like He gave to me and to everyone else in this universe.

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So we parted. We still talked and I still love her, but I can definitely track the progress of her life to key moments when she could have made a different choice, a better choice (usually regarding her friends), but just didn’t.

And that’s the simple reason of why I care about God. He cared about me, and I chose to care about Him. He stood by me, and I chose to stand by Him. He was faithful to me, and I try to (even if I sometimes fail to) be faithful to Him.

God reaches out to all of us, but not all of us notice His outstretched hand or respond in kind. Did not Jesus cry, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matt. 23:37)?

God chose us. And that choice cost Jesus the crucifixion, the people’s hatred, the temporary separation from His Father, and the weight of the sin of all of mankind.

Even now God wants you to come to Him. He wants to help you, teach you, and protect you. But you have the power to reject Him just as you have the power to accept Him: we all do. When speaking to the people of Israel, Joshua (their leader), told them, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15).

He didn’t say, “You will serve the LORD,” or, “Your children will serve the LORD.” Instead, he said “choose.”

The choice always lies with us. But choose wisely: you can always make your own choices, but you usually have little to no say about the consequences that result from them.

Dear Christian, “Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely” (Roy T. Bennett, “The Light in the Heart”).

God chose us. And that choice cost Jesus the crucifixion, the people’s hatred, the temporary separation from His Father, and the weight of the sin of all of mankind. But He saw us and thought we were worth it.

As the apostle Paul says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9). Besides this, most of us “have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin” (Heb. 12:4) like Christ and His apostles have.

Let’s be faithful, Christians. Let’s choose God. Day in and day out, let’s choose our Savior.

Even though we’ve stumbled terribly before (I know I have several times), let’s recommit ourselves today. For as wise Solomon said, “A just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again” (Prov. 24:16).

1 thought on “It’s Always Our Choice: A Testimony”

  1. I admire your humble spirit to see the work of God in your life overcoming adversity. I wish I have the same disposition when troubles come my way, but it’s true we have no power over circumstances nevertheless we have the choice to glorify God in the mids of them. Thank you for sharing your testimony.

    Liked by 1 person

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