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Choose life

by davesandel on March 11th, 2023

Saturday, March 11, 2023

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Choose life

Shepherd the people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance. As in the days when you came from the land of Egypt, show us wonderful signs.

Sheryl’s dad calls it the “Dead button.” Before 10 am he has to push the button to let the powers that be in his retirement home know that … he’s not dead. He’s alive!

My friend Chris stretches that well-established failsafe out a bit. Imagine that every day the first thing you have to do is press a button, but this one says “LIVE.” And you have to press it before 10 am, or your heartbeat stops, and you die.

Of course my acceptance of life in the morning is often drowsy, bedraggled and reluctant. But I’m passive in the middle of all this, because I know I can be. My breathing continues, my heartbeat continues, and my mind gradually returns to itself. For me, getting wet in the shower loosens the hold of sleep. Soon I am ready to push the LIVE button.

Chris imagines that, given the choice, many people would think twice before pushing it. Or maybe they wouldn’t push it at all. Life sucks, and then you die. And if life sucks, it might be hard to imagine how the problems that await you in the “undiscovered country” could be any worse.

Moses spoke to his people in the wilderness. They had certainly been murmuring against him and against God. They seemed to be thinking seriously about going back to Egypt, or just lying down in the sand to die.

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).

Moses’ confidence infected the people and they rose up and moved on to the land of Canaan, although it did take them forty years to make the relatively short trip. The murmurer’s all died, and even Moses died, in those forty years. They stopped pushing the “LIVE” button, I guess.

Jesus tells a story about one young man who thought he was pushing the button, but realized he had been deceived, and then he had to return home and start again. He was afraid to return to his father and brother, but he faced his fear and then faced them. His brother turned away, but his father embraced him.

Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son. But his father ordered his servants to bring the finest robe and put it on him, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet, take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Let us celebrate with a feast.

The prodigal son chose life. He pushed the LIVE button. He faced his fears.

This son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found. And then the celebration began.

 (Micah 7, Psalm 103, Luke 15)

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