Most of us have heard the old ‘cliché’ that life is all about choices.  Do we go here or there? Do we eat this or that? Do we spend money of this item or that item? The choices are seemingly endless and obviously some more personally impacting than others.   A couple of months ago, I was headed home from work early for an appointment.  It was a rare sunny day in February.  I was so enjoying the quiet sunny drive home that two things happened.  One, my right foot got a bit ‘heavier’ than usual as I drifted off into thinking, singing, praying, etc. that I didn’t realize I was going 72 mph in a 55 mph zone.  Second, I also didn’t notice the Deputy Sherriff’s car that had just passed me and was quickly turning around and coming up rapidly behind me with his lights flashing!  Ugh!  He gave me a $175 ticket!! Ouch!

As I thought about that day, it dawned on me that even though I wasn’t intentionally speeding, the result was the same – a big speeding ticket.  The ticket wouldn’t have really been any different if I had been late for my appointment and speeding on purpose – $175 is $175!

There is a story in the book of 1 Samuel chapter 12 that describes some seemingly ‘unintentional’ choices that the children of Israel were made that didn’t really turn out to be in their best interest.

“But they forgot the Lord their God. So he handed them over as slaves to Sisera, the commander of the army of Hazor, and as slaves to the Philistines and the king of Moab.” – vs. 8

The word ‘forgot’ has it’s root meaning in the phrase ‘to lose ones hold/grip on”.  Just like I lost ‘hold’ of the speed I was going and ended up with ticket (and was a ‘slave’ to it until I could pay it), the Israelites forgot about God – the God who brought them out of Egyptian slavery, the God who provided for them in the desert for 40 years and the God who promised and delivered the land of Canaan to them… a land flowing with milk and honey.  Intentionally or unintentionally, they forgot all about Him and the result was the same – God allowed them to be captured and turned in to slaves for the surrounding peoples and tribes.  The Israelites lost their focus and priorities, causing them to ‘forget’ God.

The life lesson in this is we are always making ‘choices’ – even unintentionally. Our lives don’t go into ‘limbo’ just because we are ‘drifting’.  Every intentional or unintentional choice brings with it a consequence. I didn’t choose or want that speeding ticket and I don’t think the Israelites intended on forgetting about God in their everyday lives.  They didn’t wake up one day and decided as a group of people, “From this day forward, we are no longer choosing to follow God and His ways.  We are going to do our own thing, our own way and for our own benefit.”  It was a gradual drift… one small, seemingly insignificant decision at a time until they were no longer serving God who loved them, but rather serving the people around them who considered them slaves and probably worked them like it.  The same can be said of us.  When we ‘forget the Lord our God’, we can become ‘slaves’ to the world around us as well.  Maybe not necessarily in the physical sense like the Israelites were, but more in the realm of being a ‘slave’ to things like work, hobbies, money, “toys”, unhealthy relationships, misaligned priorities, etc. I don’t know about you, but being a ‘slave’ to anyone or anything isn’t very appealing.

So, what’s one to do if we find that we’ve slipped into ‘unintentional slavery’?  A few verses later in 1 Samuel 12, we get the answer.

19 We’ve added to all our sins…”

20 Samuel answers, “Don’t be afraid. It’s true that you did wrong, but don’t turn away from the Lord. Serve the Lord with all your heart.”

The Israelites respond first by recognizing that they have made some wrong choices.  Immediately Samuel comforts them by saying (my paraphrase) – “Don’t freak out.  You recognized your mistake and the Lord will forgive you.  Choose to make the right choice from here on out – serve God with all your heart and do not turn away from Him.”

Freedom is so much better than slavery!

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Comments
  1. Rhonda says:

    Brian,
    Very good words once again. It made me remember my last ticket I received. It was my last day at Love INC in 2009. I was speeding to get there and I was pulled over by a motorcycle cop. I was speeding in a school zone. My ticket was $200, very high because it was a school zone. I almost started crying and went back home. I sat there and thought, no I am still going to Love INC. I am so glad I didn’t listen to my emotions. On my last day with Love INC, I lead an Indian man to the Lord. I believe that was a divine appointement from God.
    God bless you,
    Rhonda

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