One of my fellow bloggers (Allen) gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me ever since. This isn’t the exact quote, but it went something like this –
“To move forward in life you have to exchange one set of good things for another set of good things.”
At the time I was a few weeks away from getting married and I was really curious what marriage looked like. I had been single for almost 29 years and while I was thrilled to be getting married, I was really unsure of what changes it would bring to my life.
But this advice really stuck with me because of how true it was. Being single was awesome. I had freedom to do whatever I wanted, spend money how I wanted, and sleep in as late as my job would allow.
However, being married is awesome too. Living with someone you love is one of the most awesome things ever. And, doing so year after year gets better and better.
Yet to deploy a great piece of advice such as this, a choice had to be made with a sacrifice in tow. I would have to exchange the awesomeness of being single for the awesomeness of marriage.
In the Isaiah 44 reading this week, God challenges the people to find another God like him. Yes, there may be gods who are more fun to serve. Maybe in theory polytheism works better than monotheism. Or maybe even the people could create an idol much better and fulfilling than God. But, he wants to see it.
The longer I live, the less I see that compares with the God of the scriptures. I really have so many questions about God and why he chose to act certain ways in scripture, but in the meta-narrative of the bible, I see a God who really wants the best things for those who follow.
But, back to choice. As Allen’s apt advice states – you have to exchange one good for another good. It is really hard when the two try to coexist. I think this is one of the reasons God looks so angry in scriptures. When his people chose to live as they did before they were chosen (or chose Him), they were exchanging the great life God had given them for the very things they had originally given up to be his people. Scriptures seems to take us through the never-ending back and forth of God’s people as they tried to navigate what it really meant to live fully in his steps.
I have always identified with the sheer ignorance, forgetfulness, and hypocrisy of the Israelites in scripture. Those things mark so many parts of my life. When I think of my marriage, I think about the ways I have tried to live both as single and as a married man. You know what, that doesn’t work.
But this is where I think the meta-narrative of scripture helps us understand what God is after. Each day I make the choice to stick with my family and my marriage. It’s a daily choice. Some might disagree and say over time it becomes less of a choice. Maybe, but I could choose something else. But to do that, I would have to exchange all the good things I have in that relationship for things I have already given up.
Really, it is the same thing in scripture. We find over and over the people of God having to re-choose the Lord. It is a constant struggle, but in the end the choice of sticking with God always seems to be the best one.
So, let this encourage you today. Yes, the big choice to follow God is an important one. But more important are the many choices we make to stay with him and help others to do so.
Because, we have already exchanged so much to live with God. Let’s not take all of those things back.
Great advice, Allen.