A few nights ago, I had a very disturbing nightmare. I dreamed I was in staying in a hotel, and my hotel room was infested with rats and snails. As I walked the halls of the hotel, I felt pulled into a channel of darkness. I had been fighting the tug, but I finally decided to stop resisting and just give in to it. Suddenly I started to glide just below the hotel ceiling, allowing myself to be carried along in a stream of black toward what I was sure was a black hole from which I would never return. I was even enjoying the feeling of surrender and non-resistance as I floated effortlessly above all the hotel guests.
Then, in my dream, I remembered Jesus. At once I recognized the seriousness of my situation – what in the world was I thinking? Was I really about to allow myself to be overtaken by the dark side? In sheer panic I declared, “Jesus! Jesus is my Lord!” Immediately, I dropped to the floor and my senses were restored. I went to the hotel dining room where my parents were eating dinner, and through tears of repentance I begged their forgiveness for my evil behavior.
My dream reminds me that I’m always, in every situation, faced with a choice – to follow or reject God, to affirm or renounce my commitment to Him. The decision, for me, is truly a matter of life or death. In the Bible, we read of Moses presenting the offer of life or death to the Israelites. After reviewing God’s laws and the terms of the covenant God had initially made with Israel 40 years earlier at Mount Sinai, Moses called upon the people to choose between life, prosperity and blessings or death, destruction and curses:
See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
This day I call the heavens and the 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 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 30:15-20; emphasis mine)
It sounds like an easy choice, doesn’t it? Anyone in their right mind would naturally choose life, wouldn’t they? Who among us would voluntarily opt for death, destruction and curses? Yet I regularly find myself faced with the ugliness within my own heart, and I have a choice as to whether I will take the matter to God and seek guidance, forgiveness and life or whether I will do things my own way – the way that Scripture says “appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 16:25).
At the time I had the nightmare, I was dealing with a situation that left me feeling angry and resentful. People weren’t acting the way that I wanted or expected, and I was focused mostly on what I wanted and needed and not about the other parties involved. The nightmare I had showed me that my “room”, i.e. my heart, was full of “snails” and “rats”, what I interpret as wickedness and filth. The pull of evil and my willingness to go along with it clearly indicated that I was choosing death. Through my dream, I believe that God was revealing to me that I needed to recognize the ill-will I harbored in my heart, and that I needed to come to Him for help and to surrender to Him yet again as my Lord.
Despite Moses’ warning to the Israelites, the people chose death, destruction and curses over and over again. Moses’ caution to “choose life” occurs in chapter 30 of Deuteronomy, yet in chapter 31 Israel’s rebellion is already being predicted. How it must break the Lord’s heart when we turn from Him! And how gracious He is when we return to Him to lovingly take us back time and time again! If the Lord didn’t shower His grace and mercy upon me, I would have been destroyed by my own selfishness and self-will long ago.
What will your choice be today, Warrior? None of us will ever be perfect, but will you choose this day to “love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws” (Deuteronomy 30:16) to the best of your ability? Joshua challenged the Israelites by making them decide, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:15a). I pray that we would commit ourselves to God with the same conviction as Joshua, and that we would choose life.
But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15b)
Enjoy Big Tent Revival’s Song “Choose Life”