Have you ever read those “Choose Your Own Ending” Goosebumps books? You start at the beginning, and pretty soon you’re given a choice of what you want to do next, and you pick one, then you get another set of choices, and you pick one of those. Every choice you make leads to another set of different choices until, eventually, you die a unique gruesome death to which your particular line of choices led.
As a kid, these books were entertaining, but not very profound. Now that I look back on them, I can’t think of a better model for life. I don’t believe God has a plan for each of us. I don’t think that each of us has a sole purpose in life, and if we don’t heed that calling we’re letting God down. Why would we have free will, only for God to say, “Sorry, but 830 out of the 1000 choices you made in your lifetime were not what I had planned for you” (assuming God could talk, of course)?
Life is one long, tedious lesson in cause and effect. We’re presented with choices everyday, and the choices we make lead to new consequences and new choices, and we keep making new decisions as a result of previous decisions up until the day we die. If we could chart it out, it would look like a family tree. There would be hundreds and hundreds of points in a hierarchical structure, but only one direct line would lead to you. Your life is one unique line passing through all of the decisions you ever made.
We’re told, growing up, that there are good decisions and bad decisions, right choices and wrong choices, but, as we mature, we inevitably realize that most of life’s decisions are not so easily black and white. Many times, we have no idea what the right choice is, and we spend time worrying if we’ll get it right or not. Well, I don’t believe there are any wrong decisions–I think “God’s will” is for us to be able to choose how we respond to the things that happen to us and to be able to learn from those choices, which will, in turn, help us make decisions in the future.
Whatever choices we make in life, and whatever new choices and consequences result from those decisions, one thing is certain: Unlike a Goosebumps book, we can’t start at the beginning and make different choices. We have to live with what we’ve done, and make the decision to move on to whatever’s next.