Usually you associate life & death choices with the surgeon, the paramedic, the firefighter, the air traffic controller, or the soldier. One choice means the difference between someone living or dying. No doubt, those are high pressure, important and sobering moments when something – life itself – hangs in the balance. Most people don’t see themselves in a position where they are concerned about life & death choices. And frankly most people don’t envy those who are.
But wait a minute! In reality you make life & death choices all the time. Every one of us does. You see, life & death choices are not simply those choices where termination of someone’s existence is at stake. There are incremental choices that you make every day that are choices for life or choices for death. It may not be the “final” choice; it may not be the deciding choice. But nonetheless, it is a choice for life – or death.
Choices for death are those choices which if extended out in a pattern of living or choosing will ultimately lead to the desiccation of the soul. Your heart dries up and shrivels to the point where no life exists. These are choices that close the possibility of reconciliation; that exclude grace; that undermine the dignity of another person; that disconnect you in selfish isolation; that leave no room for the Holy Spirit to be at work in healing. Cynicism, sarcasm, and patronizing words and attitudes are choices for death. Something inside you dies when these are the choices you make.
Choices for life, on the other hand, are choices that invite the grace of God to be at work; that leave open the possibility of reconciliation; that allow for forgiveness; that upbuild another person’s dignity; that allow the Holy Spirit to re-weave broken relationships back into wholeness. These are choices which when compounded in your life bring vibrancy, deep joy, transcending peace and hope that cannot be quenched no matter the pain and hardship. And life becomes whole in you as you become more of what God envisioned.
I certainly do not minimize the importance of those who make hard decisions in the operating room, on the battle field, in the heat of the flames – a life and death choice that saves the physical life of another. But you are charged with making equally important choices each day as you live out the days of your life. You do have a choice – every moment, every circumstance, every person you encounter. Choose life!