How did you do last year?
So how did you do last year? When you came to the end of the year, were you better off or were you disappointed? What about those projects you planned to do? That weight you were going to lose? The savings and investing you were planning you were going to do? The breaking of bad habits and the beginning of good habits? Did you get closer to your friends? To your family? To God? At the end of the year were you satisfied or did you have regrets?
While some things are beyond our control (hurricanes, where the economy will go, whether a deer jumps into the path of your car), for the most part, we are where we are in life because of the choices we have made. If we will be honest with ourselves, the truth of that statement is undeniable. We make choices and choices have consequences.
The power to choose is a God-like attribute. In the Creation account, mankind is made in “God’s image.” That means, among other things, that, unlike every other created being on the earth, we have the power to choose. In fact, the theme of choice is found throughout the Bible. In the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve have the opportunity to choose to obey God or not. They chose “not” and trouble followed. Some things never change.
For the most part, life is the result of a series of choices, some good and some bad. Sometimes I ask people, “Do you have any regrets?” If they respond in the affirmative, almost always, the regrets are about choices they have made and, given the opportunity to do it over, they would make a different choice. We cannot change the choices we have made. We can, however, plan a better future by making better choices.
What about those events over which we had no control? How do we deal with those? Columnist Rick Ryckeley, in writing about his father (who had his own share of troubles in life) quotes his dad as saying, “Bad stuff happens to everybody. You can’t control that. The only thing you can control is how you react to it.” And that, too, is a choice.
What about dealing with the bad choices we have made? We can learn from them, of course, and determine not to make those choices again. But, eventually, we need to move one and let the past be the past. Zac Brown, in his song, “Let it Go,” offers this advice about life:
“You keep your heart above your head and your eyes wide open
“So this world can’t find a way to leave you cold
“And know you’re not the only ship out on the ocean.
“Save your strength for things that you can change.
“Forgive the ones you can’t.
“You gotta let ‘em go.”
The Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy recognizes the power of choice:
“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it.” (30:15-16)
We stand at the beginning of a new year with the possibility of unlimited choices. May your choices, and mine, be wise. Then, with fewer regrets at the end, it really can be a Happy New Year!
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org). He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]