Decisions, decisions, decisions. Our lives are filled with decisions. From the time we wake up in the morning until the time we go to bed, we face a multitude of decisions. And it is the time of year, just after celebrating a new year, decisions in some cases become resolutions. Yes, the sometimes successful, but often times not successful, resolutions that end up affecting us in a lot of ways.
Decisions are important. The decisions that we make can also be defined as the choices we make. Often times we look at the success of others that made the same, or similar choices, and believe that we will have the same, or similar, success. Often times that is not what happens because they are choices you and I should not be making.
I’m reminded of what the Bible says in the book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 30 and verse 19. It says: “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” Now, you might say that the choices you face are not life and death choices. But I’m going to ask you to rethink that.
When you make wrong choices, there will be pain. You’re going to experience pain. The reality is that a lot of pain that we experience will be outside of our ability to control. Jesus said this in John 16:33. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
All of us have trouble when we choose outside of what is best for us. But understand this, you can choose your pain. For example you can choose to live within your means or you can live an extravagant life and have the pain of a mountain of debt.
I want you to think about this. Where is the greater pain? Is it the pain of discipline or the pain of regret? Discipline is defined as choosing between what you want NOW and what you want MOST.
Due to a health concern, I have had to choose if I want to go to Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation or not? Rehabilitation is not just a quick trip to the gym or the doctor’s office. That is what most people who have not had to participate in a rehabilitation program think. Cardiopulmonary rehab is difficult. It is hard and your body aches. Rehab exercises push you. The rehab technicians and nurses drive you to your maximum. It is 90 minutes, 3 times a week and your body, mind and strength know that you have had a workout.
Now I had a choice to make when I was told that it was needed in order for my lungs and heart to get stronger. I could choose to quit at any time. I chose the pain of discipline over the pain of regret. I chose to push myself in order to improve my health. This was not just for my benefit. My improved health has also benefited my wife and it certainly honors God. Being healthy in ministry enables me to fulfill what God has called me to do.
Do I make the right choices in every single decision? No, I don’t. There are times I think I know everything and my pride gets in the way and I make a wrong choice. Yes, I pay the price for those choices. Even the Apostle Paul, who was a disciple of Jesus Christ, made some wrong choices. He says in the Book of Romans, Chapter 7 and Verse 15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
So what does all this mean? On our own we are prone to make wrong choices. You need to ask yourself, “what do I want most and what do I need to choose now to achieve what I want most later”? There are a lot of things that you may want to change or that need changing. Pick what that is, write it down, give it a name. Ask yourself, “what actions, or steps, will I take to begin the discipline that will lead to a change”? Now, sometimes we can’t always control the outcome, but we certainly can control the input. These actions will be difficult at first, but once you see victory in your life because of right actions, the process will become a lot easier. What power do we have to choose the correct input? With the help of the power of Jesus Christ, He can enable us to choose not what we want now, but what we really want most. We will choose discipline over regret. And when we do, we will see victory!
Friend, my rehabilitation continues to be hard. My body realizes it every day. But I remember the first day and how I felt. I have seen victory by choosing the pain of discipline over the pain of regret. I know you will too when you begin to think about the choices you make. Remember, our lives are filled with decisions, but thanks be to God we have His power to make the right choices by choosing the pain of discipline over the pain of regret. I am convinced that you are too, and that together, will have victory through the Power of Jesus Christ! For a powerful sermon on this very topic, check out this week’s podcast by Pastor Aaron Taylor at: http://painesvilleag.com/i-choose