The future is the sum total of all the choices that are made in the present and in the past. Fortunately, that sum total includes the choices made by God.
Erwin McManus, Uprising, p. 237
If we took a minute to think about it we would realize that the world we live is the product of billions of choices. Each of every person who has every lived has had a hand in creating this world. I think this is why the idea of parallel universes is so appealing because it helps us to think about the what ifs of life. We can imagine what life would have been like if we would have gone out for the football team, ask a certain girl out of a date, or applied ourselves in the classroom. Just think there might be a universe out there where I am the President of the United States!
Though we know in our hearts of hearts, as the great theologian Eddie Money taught us, we can't go back. The past is the past and we can't go back and make different choices. Even if there were other parallel universes out there the alternate me making different or better choices doesn't affect my life. The only life that really matters is the life that I am currently living.
I have to realize that the life that I am living right now is largely the product of the choices I have made. Yes, I have been affected by the choices of other people, but those choices still required that I would respond in a certain way. So it all comes down to choices. Each day we are faced with hundreds of little choices, and those choices mold us into the people we are becoming.
This can sound a little scary. After all I know myself and I know how often I make the wrong choice. I know how easy it is not to exercise because I am to tired or how easy it is to eat the wrong thing (is that a Reeses Peanut Cup Blizzard calling my name?) because my body is craving it. Each and everyone of us have tired to become a different person, we have had the good intentions, and we have fallen short. Let me encourage you: Things can be different!
First we have to realize that our problem with making the wrong choice often comes from the fact that we are lead by our flesh. Our flesh focuses on the immediate and satisfying our bodily desires. It is our flesh which leads us to sin. It was Eve's flesh that convinced her to listen to the voice of Satan and eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was Adam's flesh that caused him to desire Eve more than he desired God.
Read what Paul wrote about the flesh:
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:5-8; ESV).
When our choices are guided by the flesh we are unable to please God and to live the way He wants us to live. Thank God our lives and our futures are not totally dependent on our choices. We can have different lives because of the choices God has made. That is the good news! God's choices are added into the equation of our choices to shape the future.
Earlier in Romans Paul wrote:
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11; ESV)
You see because God made the choice not to give up on humankind He did whatever it took to save us from sin, to rescue us from death, and to give us new life. He did this, not based on our good choices, but based on His character. God desired that we would be able to live lives which were guided by the Spirit and not the flesh. In this way we would have the resources we need to make good decisions.
Our futures are created by the choices that are made. Our lives are affected by our choices, the choices of the people around us, the choices of Satan, and most importantly the choices of our Heavenly Father. The reality that God is active in the world and in our lives is the good news that has the ability to change the trajectory of our lives. We can be different people and our futures shaped when we open our hearts to the choices God has made in this world. Thank God our futures are not totally dependent on the choices we make!