In any given week, all of us have hundreds if not thousands of opportunities for self-expression. When we get up in the morning, we get to express ourselves by preferences.
Every time we sit down in a restaurant, as we look at that menu, we get to decide what we would prefer to drink? What do we want to eat? What kind of salad dressing would we like?
“What do you have?” I ask my waitress. She says, “Ranch, Thousand Island, Blue Cheese, and Italian.” And so I express my preference. If I’m having breakfast, my waiter asks me, “How do you like your eggs? What kind of toast do you want?” It seems like a thousand times a day, I have to decide things. But wait. Is it that I have to decide? Or do I get to decide? Invariably, those two ideas seem to run together.
In order to get what I prefer, I must decide, determine what I want. When my waiter says, “Do you want an English muffin, or a biscuit? I don’t respond with ‘Surprise me.’ If I fail to express my choice … the guy in the kitchen cooking my breakfast will decide for me. I don’t want anyone deciding for me. I want to decide for myself. The reason they put pictures on menus is to help guys like me decide what looks good, so I’ll hurry up and order. And the reason I want to decide is because I want to be able to choose. I want to be able to express my preferences.
Self-expression in life has consequences, doesn’t it? There’s a huge difference between declaring what I want to eat at a restaurant, and firmly declaring what I’ve decided about my eternal destiny. Life with God seems to contradict the logic behind my preference. In fact, I’ve known people who spend more time trying to decide whether they want a biscuit or an English muffin with their breakfast than they do coming to a clear belief and decision about God.
One of the great challenges in life, I think, is carefully examining the choices God allows me to make, deciding what I prefer, and differentiating those choices from what God in his infinite wisdom has already ‘decided’ for me. By surrendering my life to Jesus, I ask him to decide the direction of my life. I acknowledge that many of the self-focused choices I would love to make are better left to His grace-filled direction. Instead of demanding something off of a menu of my life that I’ve designed, I’m so much better off looking into his waiting face and saying, “Surprise me. You know the plan; you understand the menu and ingredients of the abundant life you have for me, far better than I know. I submit to your will, O Lord. I bow to your choice for my life.’
The Apostle Paul spoke to choices, I think, in his letter to the Philippians, ch. 3:
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ (Phil. 3:7,8)