The Power of Choice
Today, Esther reminds us that choice is a powerful thing, and challenges us to make a simple decision not to ignore the oppression surrounding us.
"Let’s commit to choosing justice today, just where we are."
What was the last choice you made?
Maybe it was to sneak an extra sugar into your tea. Maybe it was which radio station to listen to this morning. Maybe it was a choice of what to wear, what time to leave the house, which route to take to work, or how to greet the people around you?
Steve Jobs, creator of Apple, wore the same outfit every day of his working life, in order to not waste his time choosing clothes. He wanted to save his choices for work, to streamline his time, and not to use up any of his creativity on things that he believed didn’t matter. He was highly conscious of the choices he did and didn’t want to engage in.
I recently read an article about choice, in which it was estimated that the average person, living in the UK, makes 35,000 choices a day.
35,000 choices: from what to have for breakfast, to how you like your coffee, to whether you are going to run to get the train you might be a little late for, to whether you skim-read or deeply engage... According to the research, we make 226 choices per day on food alone! In fact, if we multiply that number by 365, we make close to 13 million choices a year. And let’s face it, most of these 13 million choices, are trivial. Insignificant. Subconscious decisions bearing little to no consequence on the world around us. A latte or a cappuccino?
Some of them are more important, however: where you’re going to live, what you choose to pursue in your career, your spouse, who you choose to invest in, how you interact with the people around you.
A small disclaimer here- I am someone who hasn’t always found ‘choice’ an easy concept. There have been times where I have been paralysed by indecision, where I have wished I didn’t have to choose, and that there would be a set route mapped out for me that I could just follow!
And whilst God had been taking me on a journey from fear to faith, I am conscious that choice is a powerful thing. I wonder, to what extent do you consider how you use your choices, on a day to day basis?
Choices and justice in Exodus
At the start of Exodus, we meet two remarkable women, named Shiphrah and Puah. I would hazard a guess that these two women probably aren’t on your ‘favourite-best-known Bible-character’ list, but their part of the Exodus narrative has been speaking to me a lot about this concept of choice, and how they use their choices in order to bring about justice in an amazing way.
If you have the time, give Exodus 1 a read… if not, let me set the scene for you:
In Exodus 1, the story of God’s mission to the world is about to unfold. Moses is about to be born and with him a whole new chapter of God’s purposes will be written. There will be a shift from family to nation; a new emphasis on justice, community and worship. Yet, in place is a power-hungry king, who is determined to limit the amount of Hebrews in His country. As a result, he has commanded the midwives to murder, at birth, any male child born. He wanted to create a society where his authority was absolute. Fear, pain, oppression and injustice reign.
I wonder, faced with this situation, what would you do? How would you respond? What choice would you make?
The story of Shiphrah and Puah is told in Chapter 1 of Exodus, and it hinges on a single verse, verse 17:
“because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders.”
These courageous women make a choice to challenge the oppression that was enveloping the nation before their eyes - not on their watch - by tricking Pharoah into believing that they couldn’t get to mothers in time and letting babies be born free. They chose to break a pattern of pain and terror that they saw. With faith and courage, the midwifes chose not to buy into the injustice which had become the status quo for the nation.
As a result, the Hebrew race grew; Moses was born safely in secret; and God blessed the two midwives. They played a key part in God’s plan to bring freedom: to usher in a whole new era- they literally ‘deliver the deliverer’ of Israel. How? Not by taking centre stage, but by making courageous decisions, just where they were, pursuing justice through their day job, in their ‘normal’ environment.
They saw that what was going on around them, the oppression of others, and they made a simple choice not to ignore it.
Like Rosa Parks, they used the place they were in to question and disturb the foundations of a corrupt society. They used the power of their choice to bring freedom to those who couldn’t choose freedom for themselves, a pattern which resonates to the work of IJM UK too.
But what about us? How can we choose justice where we are? Where is God provoking us to bring freedom to those around the world?
Perhaps you can consider the products you buy: how will you use your consumer choices to bring about freedom and justice, by not buying into brands that rely on the slavery of others?
Perhaps you can lovingly question the ethics of your business: how can you encourage your colleagues to engage with global issues of justice, with honour flowing through supply chains?
- Perhaps your friends have never heard of the issue of slavery, and you can choose to introduce them to stories of hope and transformation?
- Perhaps God is whispering to you about giving to, or volunteering with, a charity who pursue justice?
- Perhaps God is going to plant creative ideas deep within you, that He will help you grow…
Today, let’s take inspiration from Shiphrah and Puah, to use our choices well; with boldness and courage.
Let’s take inspiration that we don’t have to have it all together; that whether we feel weak or strong, qualified or afraid, we can ask the Holy Spirit to embolden and inspire us.
Let’s ask Him for wisdom in our day to day, in order to use our choices to glorify God. To bring freedom to others, to bless those around us, to stand up to oppression and interrupt apathy, to believe that God wants to use us, in our environments, to bring in the Kingdom.
Esther studied at Durham University, before spending some time in teaching, and most recently working for the International Justice Mission. She is married to Tom and lives in the North East.