Once upon a time there lived high in the Himalayan mountains an old man known for his wisdom. Periodically, he ventured down into the local village and amazed villagers with his knowledge and insight.
He knew when it would rain, and thus when the village should plant crops. He could predict the frost, and thus when crops should be harvested. He knew how to treat illness and prevent impending illness. Being so well respected, people would flock to him to seek his advice and counsel. They would bring questions and the wise man provided answers.
One day a young lad wise in his own eyes, devised a plan to trick the old man into a wrong answer. He would catch a bird and ask, “What’s in my hand?” When the old man said, “A bird.” Then he would ask, “Is it dead or alive?” If he said, “dead,” the boy would open his hands and let the bird fly away. If the old man said, “alive,” he would crush it in his hands and let it fall to ground dead.
The following week, the wise old man came down from the mountain into the village. The boy quickly caught a bird and cupping it out of sight in his hands, walked up to the wise old man and asked, “Old man, what is it that I have in my hands?”
The wise old man said, “You have a bird, my son.”
The boy then asked, “Old man, tell me: Is the bird alive or is it dead?”
The wise old man looked at the boy, thought for a moment and said, “Son, the answer lies in your hands.”
This old story reminds us of a never changing and always relevant truth. We hold in our hands the freedom of choice. “The greatest power a person possesses is his power to choose,” wrote Psychologist and author, Dr. J. Martin Kohe. We have the ability to choose right or wrong. Good or evil. God or the Devil.
Moses, in his final days before handing over the mantel of leadership to Joshua, offered a stirring challenge to Israel before they entered the promised land. “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deut 30:19).
In a similar vein Joshua called the nation together in his days with this rousing exhortation: “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh 24:15)
William Jennings Bryant was right when he observed, “Destiny is not a matter of chance. “it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”
God has given you and I this day. It can be used for His glory, or to our shame. It can be filled with goodness, or wasted with wickedness. Its hours can be invested in deeds that will produce divine dividends, or they can be squandered, leaving us spiritually bankrupt. It can be a day that will leave good memories, or end in bitter regrets.
It’s your choice. It’s in your hands.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman