At yesterday’s gathering of Weekly Manna, a Christian gathering that takes place on Wednesdays during the noon worship period at the law school, my friend Chato offered a reflection on a portion of the 30th chapter of Deuteronomy (30:11-20). It happens to be a passage that I love.
The passage begins with God’s characterization of his command. God tells us:
[T]his command which I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.
So right out of the gate, God is telling us that he is not placing before us an insurmountable task. No tricks – no hiding the ball or other guessing games. Rather, God makes it very simple for us – all you have to do is carry out that which you already know, that which I have already placed in your heart.
God goes on to tell us something fundamental: we get to choose whether to live in the truth of who we are or to choose something else:
Here, then, I have today set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees, you will live and grow numerous, and the LORD, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy. If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen, but are led astray and adore and serve other gods, I tell you now that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.
And God implores us to choose wisely, because there are consequences to our choice. Although speaking directly to the Israelites in this passage, God lays before us the same choice he laid before them, and implores us as fervently:
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land which the LORD swore he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
As Chato observed, we don’t always choose wisely. Indeed, we are sometimes not even cognizant that we are making choices – that each day in so very many ways – we make the decision to choose God or not God, life or death, love or disregard, and so on.
It is our choice – to live in the truth of who we are, to live in accord with that which God has placed in our heart, choosing life, or to “adore and serve other Gods.”