What's the Greatest Superpower of All?Mar 21, 2022
Cream pies posed under thick white curls of meringue, arranged to attract the shyest of visitors. Their cousins, plump with fruit, scorned such fussiness and sat content covered with simple strips of crust. A few fancied a bit of sparkle and shone with sugar drops sprinkled atop the amber pastry rows.
Across the barn hefty pots simmered with chili waiting to be scooped into spongy foam bowls and devoured with small white plastic spoons. The big spenders splurged on broiled hot dogs sheltering inside cool white buns, transforming the red beans & meat into a chili dog!
Outside the building normally used for storing hay and machinery, numerous tables whined about the huge stacks of books, dishware, utensils, farm tools, unused quilt fabrics, and knick-knacks they babysat. In large open areas gleaming or rusting, modern or vintage, working or retired, pieces of farm equipment perched or squatted. Balers. Tractors. Plows. Discs.
Friends and strangers roamed about, gazing at the white clapboard homestead, peering into dusty boxes, searching for a treasure to claim. Others ignored the bounty and staked their spot on a hay bale, on an upturned five-gallon bucket, under a shade tree, or near the item they’d come to bid on. It was a favorite piece of my childhood puzzle – a farm auction.
Today we have innumerable podcasts, articles, books, and courses instructing on improving leadership, achieving goals, handling failure, and scaling success.
A farm auction will teach these lessons – and raise you one.
It’s all about choices, especially when we don’t have a guaranteed, known outcome.
“What’s hidden in this?” “Is it going to work?”
The greatest power a human possesses is the ability to choose.
Why? It’s part of being designed in God’s image. The love of freedom isn’t rooted in democracy; it’s because God placed this hunger in us. Loving God with our humanity means appreciating, prizing, and honoring our capacity for choosing.
Adam resided in utopia. His relationship with God was perfect; they walked and talked face to face. Wouldn’t you like to have eavesdropped? “Hey, God, I named the lions, tigers, and bears today. Tomorrow I’m starting on the bugs.” His environment was impeccable. There were no weeds, hurricanes, polluted rivers, or disease-carrying parasites. He didn’t struggle with diets, diabetes, or depression.
But God’s goal wasn’t perfection; it was love. Just as darkness cannot exist without the absence of light, so love cannot exist without the presence of choice.
God prioritized freedom – even more than obedience.
He gave Adam not only an ability for decision-making but an opportunity. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17, ESV) Eve was also created in God’s image, with choice-making abilities.
While Scripture doesn’t record God repeating the “every-tree-but-this-one” commandment to Eve, she still chose to listen to the serpent instead of to God. Adam, who had received the commandment directly from God, chose not to intervene when Eve decided to eat the forbidden fruit (see Genesis 3:6), but elected to participate with her. Their eyes were opened, and they knew there was not only good but evil. They got what they chose but not what they wanted.
Choice-making has been harder ever since. A sinful nature pulls us away from choosing what’s best for us – loving God. Even when we are committed to loving God, we still encounter difficult decisions. What compounds choice-making is we seldom know the effects of our choices until after they’re made – sometimes decades later!
Neither Adam nor Eve grasped what “you will surely die” meant. God’s moral laws are just as real as the physical ones he’s established. Try to defy the law of gravity, and you’ll experience the real-ness of that law very quickly. But few moral laws function like this, just like the laws of driving: You may drive over the speed limit 99 times and never get “caught.” That doesn’t mean the law has no consequence. Eventually it’ll catch up with you (pun intended!), resulting in a ticket, cancellation of your driving privileges, increased insurance premiums, or a car crash.
Loving God with our choice-making ability can be summarized in five key letters: A-LASO
1) Appreciate he’s given us this ability.
2) Listen to voices which honor God. Adam and Eve’s sin didn’t start with their mouths. It began with their ears. Eve listened to the serpent, and Adam listened to Eve.
3) Ask God. If Eve had said, “Mr. Serpent, what you say sounds fascinating. But I don’t know you. And I’m going to bring this up when God shows up for an evening stroll (see Genesis 3:8)”, how differently the world might be! We ask for God’s direction through prayer and a sound understanding of Scripture.
4) Speak into other’s lives when we see they are about to make a choice disobeying God. How might things have turned out differently if Adam had said, “Hey, Eve, love of my life. I’ve heard what Mr. Serpent has told you, but this contradicts what God told me, and God’s the one who created you, me, and this paradise. Let’s wait and check in with him before tasting this fruit. Look at all the other fruits we can eat. Remember how delicious those oranges were? Let’s go have some of those.” Alas, he didn’t intervene.
5) Obey, whether we understand why it matters or not.
Choices declare priorities.
Our choices, more than words or emotions, reveals our priorities. Every time we make a choice, we train our mind to make that choice again. Loving God with “…all our mind” requires paying attention to the voices we listen to, the thoughts we nurture, and our decisions.
We make choices, and our choices make us.
Choices become habits. Habits become character. Character becomes destiny. Destiny becomes eternity.
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©Stephanie D. Smith, 2022