One of the key teachings of both Judaism and Christianity is that we always have a choice in life. The choice is between life and death, between good and evil, between beauty and ugliness. The invitation behind those decisions is to choose life; or to choose God is how religion expresses it. None of us can escape that choice. It will present itself throughout our lives in different ways. As often as not it’s a choice between selfishness and generosity.
At different moments in your life the choice will be more profound than at other times. There will be ‘threshold moments’. A threshold refers to the bottom of a doorway, considered as the entrance to a building or room. So, we talk about crossing the threshold as we enter a house, but the word has come to mean a line between one place and another. It means crossing from one place to another. Some of these threshold moments in your life will have consequences. It doesn’t mean that you can’t undo what you’ve done. It doesn’t mean you can’t make a different decision going forward, but usually threshold moments have immediate and significant implications.
I faced one such threshold moment in my early twenties. I had just finished my Arts Degree at Adelaide University and completed my first year of a Law Degree. At the time I was thinking, “Law could be the future for me. I quite enjoy it, but, more importantly, the money is great!” It’s changed somewhat now, but back then a career in law, if you were successful, meant getting paid crazy amounts of money. I say it’s changed now, because we have so many lawyers that just getting a law degree doesn’t guarantee you a big income. But back then it pretty much did.
That year was a threshold year when I was faced with a stark choice – continue law and end up earning insane amounts of money, or offer myself for ordination as an Anglican priest, study theology, and earn a lot less!
One of my passions, apart from music and bicycles, is cars. So, in the end, my choice started to crystalise as being a choice between the car I wanted: a Porsche 911 and the car I was more likely to be able to afford – a Toyota Corona!
Actually, it hasn’t all been bad; over the years I’ve ended up with a couple of nice cars, including my current nice little Toyota Hybrid, so God has been quite nice to me really, but it’s not quite a Porsche 911.
As you go through life, you will be invited to choose God. St John in his letter puts it this way: “Do not love the world or the things of the world … the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.”
It is so true that the things of this world end up passing away. Nothing lasts forever. If you look at old homes you will know what I mean; the stone or bricks on old homes eventually start to crumble to dust. We think of them as surviving forever, but they don’t. The bricks on the back of my place are literally turning to dust, which I find slightly concerning!
“Those who do the will of God live forever.” So, what does this look like for you?
For me it meant doing something I knew would give me satisfaction in life. I knew that becoming a priest would give me real joy in life, and that’s proven to be so. Being an Anglican priest has given me real joy. I wonder what it will mean for you?
Thor’s mother, Freyja has the best quote in this respect. “Everyone fails at who they are supposed to be, Thor. The measure of a person, of a hero, is how well they succeed at being who they are.”
Choosing life, choosing God, means choosing to embrace who we are. The question you need to ask yourself, the only question that really counts in the end is, “What gives me life?” If you answer that, then you will find your path.
The Reverend Dr Theo McCall