“I have set a choice before you, life or death, a blessing or a curse. Will you not choose life for yourself?” Deuteronomy 30:19
Kaleb and I have been married just shy of two months, and I can tell you no statistic has proven more true in this short time than this: “When a person is angry, their IQ actually decreases.” Can you believe that?
One night I was cooking dinner, and as Kaleb reached his hand in the pan to eat a slice of roasted bell pepper he looked at me and said, “You know, this bell pepper is really good. BUT, what would make it even better is if you chopped them up super thin.”
I think my internal body heat surpassed the high-level flame under my pan. Instantly I retorted, “If you don’t like how the bell peppers are chopped, then you can cook your own dinner!”
As you can expect, his defenses came up and he began saying things like, “Lex, I’m just saying what I prefer. What’s the big deal? They taste better to me when they’re chopped thinner.”
I don’t know how, but we managed to make that squabble last an entire hour and a half. I was livid. We ate dinner, both took showers, chatted with our parents on the phone, all the while bringing the bell pepper debacle along for the ride.
There are other examples like this that I could give you — like the time I told him (in the middle of an argument) that I wouldn’t really be sad if his bird died (insert face palm emoji). But I don’t think I need to go there quite yet.
That verse in Deuteronomy isn’t just a verse, it’s a direct question asked by God to us: will you choose life or will you choose death? In the next verse, God elaborates on His meaning of life: Will you not learn to love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days.” (verse 20).
I can’t help but hear the appeal of God here. He’s asking us a very, very simple question. And the answer we give ought to be very, very easy. But in the thick of demanding our bell peppers be cut a certain way or our spouse act a certain way or our lives go a certain way, God is continually asking, which will you choose? Will you choose Jesus and His teachings and His humility and His sacrificial love or will you choose the Enemy and his temptation to sin, to demand your own way, to attack your spouse?
Salvation is the choice we make one time in our lives: we choose to believe in Jesus and give our lives in exchange for His. But intimacy with Jesus is a choice we make in essentially every breath that we take. Will we choose to lean into the personality and character or Jesus when self and pride and our right to ourself bristles against the Holy Spirit in us?
When we seek Jesus in the moments, in the heat of the kitchen, in the thick of a conflict as silly as bell peppers or as painful as betrayal, we will find that we step into the supernatural power of life lived on God’s terms. Constantly, He is appealing to us. He is asking us to breathe, take a moment and ask ourselves, “Will I choose life or will I choose death?” Over time the choices we keep making will create a life in itself.
If it’s a free, full, contented life we want, then we have to daily bring ourselves to the person of Jesus. Or else we will spend our days making mountains out of mole hills like bell peppers. It sounds so silly, but it’s so serious. It’s not the bell pepper chopping that continued to cause strife, but you better believe it’s the offense I felt, which added onto the offense I felt during another disagreement, which led me to say I didn’t care if his beloved pet bird croaked.
How. Stupid. That one ended up hurting both of us.
And ultimately it’s comments like that which breed death and division. They breed offense and resentment. In Song of Solomon, there’s a verse that reads: “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” (2:15). The bell peppers, the sponge left drenched in the sink, the thermostat being left too high–these are the little foxes and they are the very things of life that (if we let them) have the ability to ruin the depth and the light-heartedness and the joy of love and life God intends for us to fully embrace and enjoy.
So which will we choose? Life or Death?