The Pastor’s Piece – April 11, 2021
Fellowship of Christian Farmers
April 11, 2021
When you fly on an airplane the flight attendants come by with their little cart wanting to sell you snacks and drinks. My wife and I don’t buy any because we figure seven bucks for a bag of Cheetos and a Diet Coke is simply not money well spent – not to mention the unhealthy aspect of it. But that doesn’t mean the guy next to me feels the same way. He went ahead and bought the snack pack. To be completely honest, those Cheetos looked good – real good. He must have noticed me eying them because after he stuffed a couple of handfuls into his mouth, he put the bag in my direction and offered me some. Mmmm – they smelled so good! What to do? I could have eaten the whole bag myself, but he was a stranger and who knew where his grubby hands had been before they went deep into that bag of Cheetos. So while my heart said yes, my brain said no and I unregrettably passed on the offer. Choices.
The sign at the corn plant in town says: “Be happy. Spring is in the air.” A few days after they put those words up we had a big snowstorm. I’ve been driving by there for weeks now and the sign hasn’t changed. But even so, despite periods of snow, wind, and cold rain, spring in fact, is in the air. Just look at the green grass. It’s beautiful – especially since I haven’t started mowing it yet.
A famous line from a famous poem says: “In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” That line is from Locksly Hall, a poem written by Alfred Lord Tennyson and published in 1842. The whole thing was written as a set of 97 rhyming couplets. Yet the one line we remember from the whole poem is about a young man’s fancy in springtime love.
We have heard it said many times that our choices matter. We know this is true because all of life is shaped by the choices we make. We make our choices and our choices turn around and make us. I am nothing more than the sum total of all the choices I have made over all the years of my life. I am what I am, where I am, doing what I do, as a result of thousands of choices made over a long period of time.
For instance, I was a nineteen year old boy when I noticed this pretty girl I thought I’d like to meet, so I built up all the courage I could muster and gave her a phone call. I don’t remember exactly what I said or even what we talked about, but by the time the call was over, she agreed to go on a date with me. Our first date was in the spring of the year (April 1 to be exact). Then other dates followed. I took her to meet the family, and one thing led to another, and now we are on our way to celebrating 40 years of marital bliss. It was a great choice by the way.
Because our choices matter, the Bible speaks of them often. Near the end of his life Moses challenged his people this way: “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,” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
As Joshua was an old man and nearing death, he reminded the people of Israel about what God had done for them. Then he challenged them with these words: “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD,” (Joshua 24:15).
Many years later Elijah stood on top of Mount Carmel and addressed the people of Israel this way: “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him,” (1 Kings 18:21).
Then we have these familiar words from Solomon: “There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way to death,” (Proverbs 14:12).
Finally we can add this solemn warning from the Lord Jesus Christ: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few”(Matthew 7:13-14).
Every person is on a journey that leads to life or death. One way is wide and easy. The other way is narrow and difficult. Many take the easy way. Only a few take the hard way. Jesus is saying to all of us today, “Make sure you are on the right road. You don’t want to end up in a place you never wanted to be.”
That brings me back to where I began. Our choices really do matter. We make our choices and our choices turn around and make us. Never is this more important than when hard times come and life seems to move against us. When trouble comes, you find out very quickly what you really believe.
(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin).