Our evening service at church had ended and I decided to go to the restroom before heading out. I won’t deny this. I hate public restrooms. I think they are the scourge of Satan upon humanity. Nevertheless, while in there, I hear the door to the restroom open and I don’t see anything of course, but here a voice say “If you want your lollipop, you’d better come back out here.”
Often times, we honor a man who says what he thinks, and there is some great truth to that at times. However, I often wish a man would rather think about what he says or in this case, what other people say. I think some great insights lie when we consider basic things about us that are so basic that we forget it.
I immediately realized that this child had two wants. He wanted to explore the restroom for some reason. Obviously, it wasn’t that he needed to go. His parent didn’t want him in the restroom for some reason and he did leave immediately without putting up a fuss. He also had the want of a lollipop. Which want did he act on? The want I would say that was greatest.
Which is what you and I do.
Many of us would like to blame the world for all that goes wrong in our lives. Now there are some circumstances beyond our control. I realize that. There are some circumstances that are really hard to handle. I realize that also. I do realize though that ultimately, if a choice is made, we make it.
If you are driving down the road and someone cuts you off in traffic, then they have done something wrong most likely. I’ll grant that. However, your getting angry with them is your choice. Your wanting to ram their car from behind is your choice. Your stepping on the gas to catch up to them and give them the finger is your choice as well. Your choice to accept it and pray for such an individual is also yours.
Right now, I am preparing for Seminary and my family, particularly my mother, is quite worried about it particularly in the area of finances. I have my own anxieties at times. All the anxiety each of us has though is our choice. She worries about it and is anxious about it because she chooses to be. I worry because I choose to.
Now some of you are saying to me “That’s how a mother is.” That is probably a mother’s natural inclination I’ll grant, but she does not have to give in to it. A mother does not have to worry. She chooses to. I do not condemn concern, but I do think that worry is something different from concern as worry too often excludes God.
Every choice you make implies that you could have made a choice in another way. I am typing one word now. I could have chosen to type another word. If there was no choice, I cannot really say I was acting on a want. I was merely acting in a way that I had to act for there was no other way.
Even an action done under force is still a want. Someone might say that if a thief puts a gun to your back and tells you to give your wallet, you have no choice. You do though. You can give your wallet. You can choose to get shot instead. You can even choose to try to go kung fu on the guy. To give in to a threat is still a choice and you could do it because you value your life more. Someone suicidal, for instance, might say “Go ahead and shoot.”
This also shows our choice to be happy or not to be. If we are not happy, it is for a simple reason. We choose not to be. If we worry, it is because we choose to. Why woud we do such? I think the answer is obvious. We have two choices in the matter. We can worry, or we can trust God. Being happy also means that we surrender trust to God. We choose in that case either to trust or not to trust.
Why do we sin also? There’s one reason. We choose to. Why? For some reason, we want to more than we don’t want to. The problem is not with God. The problem is with us. Our wants need to be changed. We have no grounds upon which to blame God (Or anyone else really) for any wrong that we do. It ultimately comes down to one thing. We chose to do it.
What do I suggest then? We need to pray to change our wants. Let’s be honest. We might even want to pray “Lord, a large part of me doesn’t want to change this way, but I do know it’s for the best. I want you to change my wants.” My guess is before too long, that will happen.
And for that reason we should praise God. Not just because he’s done great things, but because hopefully by then, we’ll want to.