This time I want to write about the choices or options that are open to us in this world. Now some of you reading this in prison will already be thinking that you have very little in the way of choice at this time in your life. You probably believe that your lives are controlled by the situation you are experiencing in prison, and to a large extent they are. But you see, I’ve discovered that nearer the truth is that our lives are controlled, not so much by the circumstances we find ourselves in, but how we ‘react’ to those circumstances.
Consider, for example, two people who are both diagnosed as having Aids or some other terminal illness. One of them sinks into a deep depression while the other does the exact opposite and resolves to, and then really does, live life to the full for each of their remaining days.
This ability to choose how we react comes from the ‘free will’ that God gave us humans when he designed us, something that he didn’t give the other creatures he made. This is what makes us humans so unique, we are not programmed like all the other animals are; they are far more like robots than we will ever be. Please understand that I’m not talking about robots in the sense of some sort of mechanical gadget controlled by a computer, no, I’m on about the ‘basic instincts’ that every creature is born with. Consider for example a cat – all it ever does is behave like a cat and a dog behaves like a dog – this is because they are programmed that way in their heads. Giraffes do what giraffes want to do and eat the kind of food that giraffes eat. Okay, I agree that animals are able to make limited choices – like for example my pet cat preferring a certain brand of cat food – but it still can’t choose to be anything other than a cat.
But us humans are made differently in that I could choose, for example, to behave like a cat – I could eat cat food if I wanted to, I could even clean myself up by licking my hands and then wiping the dirt off my face. In other words I can choose to pretend to be a cat – but you see, a cat can never chose to be like me !
But to return to a more serious note, there has been much speculation made over the years concerning the first, or the original, sin that Adam and Eve committed – I often wonder myself, was it really their actual eating a forbidden apple? Whatever it was, it boils down to them making the wrong choice, they decided to something that was forbidden, to disobey God and live their own lives. That choice has had tragic consequences for mankind ever since.
The trouble with much of the world today is that so many National Leaders have made, and continue to make, the same sort of wrong choices. They think they’re wiser than God – and yet look at the mess that the world is in. But before we start condemning them let each of us look within ourselves and admit that we are not much better - as the Bible says, “ We have all gone astray like lost sheep”
We may not realise it but from our lifestyles we say to God one of two things. We either say “I prefer to trust myself, my own intelligence, talents, strength and resources to not only survive in this world but also be happy”. Or we admit humbly that “I’ve made a mess of things and I need to turn to you God and trust you to look after me and my loved ones"
The Good News is that it’s never too late to take up the second option and start again but next time we need to build our lives on a much firmer foundation than our own or other people's opinions.
Having talked with many men in prison I found that – when they were off the landing and not having to pretend to be who they were expected to be – they could be surprisingly honest with both myself and themselves. Many were prepared to admit that – yes, they had received a raw deal out of life but the main reason that they were locked up in prison was that they themselves had made wrong choices somewhere along the line. To repeat the point I made earlier, the main mistake they made was that ‘they thought that they could trust themselves, or some other person, and that they didn't need God’s advice or help’
I’m pleased to say that some of those who I talked with were sensible enough to recognise and admit their need of help. How about you who are reading this? Are you prepared to put pride to one side and admit that you need to ask Jesus for help? The choice is yours, you can remain as you are, keep on thinking the way you do – or you can make a fresh start with God’s help. To repeat the point, the choice is yours, yours alone, the ball is in your court, not mine or anybody else’s.
If anyone reading this does want a new start then please go along with me in your hearts, with this closing prayer –
Dear Jesus, at times we have indeed all lost our way like lost sheep, we have made many wrong choices and will continue to do so unless we seek and receive your help. Please forgive us for being so proud and self-centred in thinking that we are wiser than you are, forgive us the mistakes we’ve made in the past and give us a fresh start. We invite you now Lord to enter into our lives and show us your ways for the future. Come into our hearts now through the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.
Contents are © Copyright 2006 Ken Mainey
Taken from www.jesuslovesprisoners.co.uk or www.jesusrenewsprisoners.co.uk