The hard work of choosing life
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I played competitive tennis as a teenager. At one point, a new player started working with my coach. He was a natural athleteâ€”quick, agile, and well coordinated. I was impressed.
My coach was not. He said, â€śThat kid will never be any good.â€ť
It seemed to me like he already was pretty good. â€śWhat do you mean?â€ť I asked.
â€śWatch him,â€ť my coach replied. â€śHeâ€™s goofing off out there. Anybody who wonâ€™t work hard in practice is not going to be able to win big matches.â€ť
Following this analogy, Moses is the coach and the ancient Hebrews are about to take the court. They have had a long tutelage under Moses. He is worried about how they will perform moving forward, because their time in the wilderness has been spotty at best. Remember the golden calf? Their grumbling about the food, their questioning if they would have been better off staying enslaved in Egypt? Moses has done what he could for them, and now he is giving them their final instructions: â€śI have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversityâ€¦ Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.â€ť
The decision comes to every generation. God moves us to faithâ€”but God also has given us free will. Choosing God means giving up the freedom to order our own lives and taking on a life that is ordered by Godâ€™s commandments. Choosing Godâ€”living in obedience to Godâ€”means living in ways that put othersâ€™ interests before our own. It means proclaiming Godâ€™s justice especially on behalf of those not invited to be a part of the discussion, and radiating Godâ€™s love in the wildly indiscriminate way God shows love to all people.
Just like excelling on the tennis court, being a faithful discipleâ€”choosing lifeâ€”is hard work. But this time, the final win is already assured.