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The Power of Choice

Lessons that I’m Learning in Moving Forward From Fear to Faith

If you’re like me, trying to walk the straight and narrow, life hasn’t been an easy one. I’ve fallen many more times than I’ve taken steps forward. The past two months have been particularly frustrating for me. I’ve stressed over school, and I’ve been eating only one meal a day and unable to sleep well most nights. I’m really thankful for friends who’ve been there for me recently. I won’t name names, but you know who you are. Whether it was text messages, spending time with me, or giving words of needed encouragement and hope, you gave me a reason to survive for another day.

I have two exams tomorrow, which I started to study an hour ago. But, as I read the words of the textbook, nothing is making sense. I know the material, and I understand the concepts, but as my eyes read the pages, my mind is blank. I think I need a break and to connect and share, what I’ve been going through lately. It can be painfully lonesome for Christians when circumstances allow for isolation. So I hope someone reading this will understand and sympathize. And I also hope that the contents will help someone, who is struggling out there.

As you may have noticed, the title is actually about the power of choice. It’s a topic I’ve been thinking about this week, and I decide to flesh it out a bit by writing about it. By no means is this an exhaustive thesis on the topic whatsoever, just trying to explore a very interesting and important tool, power, weapon or key that each of can wield against the perplexities and evils of this life.

I was taking a walk with a good friend on a boardwalk nearby. We talked about a lot of different subjects, but I think one of our favorite things to talk about is philosophy and religion. In these times, we can’t ignore the unrest and troubles of societies, governments and nations everywhere. Every Google newsfeed, has an unending stream of reports about police violence, racial inequality, class inequality, dishonest politicians, school violence, climate change, raging wars, terrorism, etc. We live in a world where there is a lot of evil and hatred. How did we get here? What’s the root cause of it all?

My friend gave an insightful answer. Pride or Ego.  It’s the selfish desire to be supreme, to be above someone else, at whatever cost. Pride is never satisfied. It can never be content. Case in point: you hear of people who win the lottery jackpot, are set for life monetarily, but in a few years, they end up bankrupt or in debt, having spent all their winnings. Brought on by pride. Pride drives us to buy the boutique cars, travel on the expensive cruises and trips, and buy the trendiest clothes and shoes. So we can be noticed. So we can stand out. So we can feel that we are better than someone else.

Pride can prop you up for a while, if you can afford it, but there’s no amount of money that can free you from the entanglement of Fear and evil habits that pride leads us to. It starts out harmlessly, but left unchecked, many eventually step onto an endless cycle of fear and frustration. One would think we would come to our senses and humble ourselves, having gotten into such a hopeless predicament. Many of us don’t because of our pride. But for those of us who want to escape, we are frustrated for a change that doesn’t come so easily.

Therefore, it begs the question: how can we rid ourselves of this fearsome pride?

Here’s what a prolific spiritual author said that is relevant to the question:
Many are inquiring, “How am I to make the surrender of myself to God?” You desire to give yourself to Him, but you are weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits of your life of sin. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, and your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity, and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you; but you need not despair. What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him. (Steps to Christ, p. 47)

Take extra notice of this part: but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. We can choose to surrender to God. We can choose to talk to Him in prayer. We can choose to give Him your will. You can choose to ask Him to change your heart.

I complied two lists, one list of bad habits and one list of good habits; one creates fear, the other creates faith.

9 habits that darken us in Fear:
1. Complaining
2. Self-defeating talk and shame
3. Insults
4. Blame and condemnations
5. Excuses
6. Procrastination
7. Opinions and not facts
8. Doing what you know is wrong
9. Holding grudges

9 habits that lighten us toward faith:
1. Give thanks
2. Optimism and self-worth
3. Affirmation and praise
4. Unconditional Love and Grace
5. Being Honest and taking Responsibility for your actions
6. Pro-Activity and Time management
7. Facts and not opinions
8. Doing what you know is Right
9. Forgiveness

If you’ve been following along up to now, I assume you have a desire to change a habit and perhaps a habit on the fear list. If you do, I want to make a suggestion. Choose to do one thing on the Faith habits list. Or choose another good habit that you can think of. I emphasize “one,” because success will be overwhelmingly impossible if you think you can change all your habits at once. Don’t quote me on that, but in my experience I think it’s proven to be true.

Focus on just one. Make it your primary goal. I find this to be a lot less stressful and easier to manage simply because I have yet to break free from all nine Fear habits and probably others not on the list, that I can’t think of right now. Plus, don’t get me started on my deficiencies in the Faith habits category.

So focus on one habit at a time. Don’t delay—get started now. It might very well be procrastination you need to focus on. Procrastination is definitely a primary bad habit of mine. So I focused on being pro-active; and then I realize not soon after, that I was holding onto painful grudges. So then, I focused on forgiveness. Then love and grace. And the beautiful thing is, once you start the ball rolling, the momentum accelerates you to change another habit and then another habit and so forth, in less and less time.

Remember, the answer to “how” is not dependant on us alone, but on Whom we give our willpower to. And here is the MOST IMPORTANT HABIT to changing our hearts from Fear to Faith: we have to make it our #1 PRIOIRTY to choose to know God by our own personal experience. That may be a choice of praying to God. That may be a choice of studying the Bible or finding someone to study with and ask questions to. That may mean giving God more thanks and praise by volunteering your talents or giving more generously. That may mean giving God more thanks and praise by volunteering your talents or giving more generously. It may mean returning to church of going to church for the first time and sincerely trying to understand who God is. Whatever it is, get to know Him. Know what He likes and what He dislikes. What He desires and hopes for. Know what kind of being He is. And I stress, I stress, may it your very first priority. Your first priority.

And Do. Not. Quit. It’s going to take time go from Fear to Faith—God knows, it has for me. But if we’re willing, God is right beside us. And if we fall, we have an ever-willing Savior who can pull us up, and out, and fix us again if we truly believe and ask Him to. But if we persist and persevere in God, one day we will be able to say with stronger confidence and joy, that the fear we once felt in our hopeless past, was replaced with a greater faith in our victorious future selves.

Well, it’s 12:30 a.m. now and I’ve studied only a few pages. I’m so not prepared for the exam tomorrow. At least, I have tomorrow afternoon to cram. But judging by how I feel right now, it’s worth it. ☺

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:” 1 John 4:18

“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Philippines 4:13

Do you agree or disagree? Write me back at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with comments and/or questions. Would be great to hear from you. ☺