By Mark A. Taylor
All of us who have heard, “You are what you eat” can agree to a corollary for the spirit and emotions: “You are what you choose.”
Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos underscored the truth of this as he addressed Princeton University’s graduating class, May 30, 2010:
When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.
One need not be 80 to see the wisdom in his observation, but being older helps. In the last half or quarter of our lives, we see how seemingly small choices put us on our current path:
The small kindness led to a friendship we value decades later.
An impetuous leap whet the appetite for what became a habit that now binds us.
A foolish word broke a relationship and created a breach that still causes pain.
Posting on Facebook last week, Chuck Sackett, minister with Madison Park Christian Church in Quincy, Illinois, spoke about the most important choice he’s ever made. “As a new believer, one of my favorite songs was, I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” he wrote, and then added, “I especially resonated with the line, ‘Though none go with me, still I will follow.’ It captured the determination that tends to characterize my life. It also amplified the approach to life I observed growing up—take responsibility, do something, work hard, be a man of your word.”
His reflection is a testimony to the value of making right choices—and a reminder of the time we chose to follow Jesus. Every follower with any experience sees how that crucial decision led to a lifetime of choices about how and whether to keep following him. Every day, sometimes every hour, our choices show how—or whether—we’ll keep that commitment
“I have chosen the way of faithfulness,” the psalmist wrote. “I have set my heart on your laws.” In Sackett’s post, he adds that the encouragement and example of many other Christians have strengthened his Christian walk. And the psalmist would agree that we cannot live out our choice to follow God by trying to walk the path alone: “May your hand be ready to help me,” he prays, “for I have chosen your precepts.”
His prayer continues as a watchword for all the choices facing any Christian this week: “Let me live that I may praise you” (Psalm 119:30, 173, 175).