Growing up in the seventies was a great time for anyone who was a couch potato. There was always something good on the television, if that was your thing. Sitcoms ruled the air ways with shows like, The Odd Couple, All in the Family, Whats Happening and Taxi. For the movie people there was, Rocky, Star Wars, and Jaws just to name a few. I was not a huge cartoon kid, but I was always up for an episode of The Flintstones or The Jetsons.
There was one cartoon character during this time that I used to tune into whenever he was on. His name was Gumby. Gumby was this weird looking green clay animation character. Clay animation cartoons were in vogue back then with Davey and Goliath and Gumby topping the list. What made Gumby particularly cool was his ability to bend like an eraser. Things that are made out of clay tend to do that rather easily. It's interesting how the Bible describes us as clay in the hand of the potter. "Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like the clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. Jeremiah 18:6 NIV.
Maybe Gumby is not so different than we are. If there's one thing we have in common, its our propensity to bend in a certain direction. Sometimes I think if I was a superhero my name would be, "Eraser Man." Have you ever wondered why scripture implores us to focus our energy and thoughts so much on positive things?
"Finally brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, or of a good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, mediate on these things." Philippians 4:8 NKJV.
Since the day we first said NO to God, we have been hard wired to bend towards the negative. Psychologists have come up for a name for this and put in in their text books. They call it, "The Negative Bias." In short, people have a tendency to register and dwell on negative stimuli more readily than positive stimuli. Doctors have reached the conclusion that when we hear bad news, it takes a mere three to four seconds for it to go into our long term memory. On the other hand when we hear good news, it takes about twelve seconds for it to plop into our long term memory. That tells me one thing, we are all up against it.
The battle of our thoughts and minds is an uphill trek filled with rocky terrain. But there is a way to climb and reach our desired destination. Although we all share the same faulty hard wiring within ourselves, even though we all are clay-like in our tendency and bend like Gumby towards the dark world of negativity, there is a remedy. There is good news that if applied can turn us from clay to steel. It is the good news of choice. God never left us alone without the tools to hack it out in this world. The greatest tool we have at our service is His constant presence.
"It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:8.
"For the LORD will not reject His people; He will never forsake His inheritance." Psalm 94:4.
"Yet I am always with you; you hold me by the right hand. You will guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory." Psalm 73:23-24.
There will never be a better substitute than God's very presence to equip and enable us to overcome our propensity to drift in the wrong direction. But the tool called choice is one that we must carry around with us at all times. Like a hammer in the hand of a carpenter, the power of choice must be strapped to our belts always at the ready.
Maybe I have become more cynical the longer I walk in this world, but I am not so quick anymore to think that anyone can do whatever they put their minds and energy to. Let's face it, a kid from the slums of Bangladesh is going to have a much more difficult time becoming an Astronaut than the son of a Navy Pilot from Annapolis Maryland. Likewise a person born to an aborigine family in Australia may never walk down the red carpet on Oscar night to accept an award for best actor or actress. Anything is possible I know, but to be practical there are improbabilities born out of social, economic and regional factors. The one thing though we all have at our disposal is the ability to choose to be the people we want to be. We were all hard wired from birth to have the capacity to choose who we will be on any given day.
When Joshua stood before the people and invited them to take a stand for the Lord he never told them to make a one time decision. "But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve." Joshua 24:15 NIV. Choosing to walk in the light as He is in the light is only good for, THIS DAY. Joshua said as much when he made his pitch by saying, "choose for yourselves this day." Our choices to dwell on the light and not the dark and walk in that direction in our minds MUST be renewed DAILY, nothing else will work.
What an unbelievable and underrated gift the power of choice is. It can make us or break us. It can mold us or melt us. What kind of person do you want to be today. Do you want to be kind, forgiving, grateful, passionate, joyful, or do you want to be vengeful, ungrateful, complaining and regretful, the choice is yours.
From the beginning God encouraged his creation to hone the choice making skills. He let us know early on that we have the power to put names to our lives and be the people we choose to be. Check this out- "Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. Genesis 2:19 ESV. Every animal was brought by God to Adam, so God's presence, the most important thing in life was always there. Every animal was brought by God to Adam, so Adam could choose what its name would be, the second most important thing, the power of choice.
What names do you want to put to your life that identify who you are? Do you want to be label yourself with the names of doubt, fear, ungratefulness and anger, or would you rather name yourself, thankfulness, joy, kindness, and grace, the choice is yours. Choose well!