The Choice
by Max Lucado

 

He placed one scoop of clay upon another until a form lay lifeless on the ground. All of the Garden's inhabitants paused to witness the event. Hawks hovered. Giraffes stretched. Trees bowed. Butterflies paused on petals and watched.

"You will love me, nature," God said. "I made you that way. You will obey me, universe. For you are destined to do so. You will reflect my glory, skies, for that is how you were created. But this one will be like me. This one will be able to choose." All was silent as the Creator reached into Himself and removed something yet unseen. A seed. "It's called 'choice'. The seed of choice."

Creation stood in silence and gazed upon the lifeless form. An angel spoke, "But what if he...."
"What if he chooses not to love?" the Creator finished. "Come, I will show you."

Unbound by today, God and the angel walked into the realm of tomorrow.

"There, see the fruit of the seed of choice, both the sweet and bitter."

The angel gasped at what he saw. Spontaneous love. Voluntary devotion. Chosen tenderness. Never had he seen anything like these. He felt the love of the Adams. He heard the joy of Eve and her daughters. He saw the food and marveled at the warmth.

"Heaven has never seen such beauty, my Lord. Truly, this is your greatest creation."

"Ah, but you've only seen the sweet. Now witness the bitter."

A stench enveloped the pair. The angel turned in horror and exclaimed, "What is it?" The Creator spoke only one word: "Selfishness." The angel stood speechless as they passed through centuries of repugnance. Never had he seen such filth. Rotten hearts. Ruptured promises. Forgotten loyalties. Children of the creation wandering blindly in lonely labyrinths.

"This is the result of the choice?" the angel asked.

"Yes."

"They will forget you? They will reject you?"

"Yes."

"They will never come back?"

"Some will. Most won't."

"What will make them listen?"

The Creator walked on in time, further and further into the future, until He stood by a tree. A tree that would be fashioned into a cradle. Even then, He could smell the hay that would surround Him. With another step into the future, He paused before another tree. It stood alone, a stubborn ruler of a bald hill. The trunk was thick, the wood was strong. Stony brow of another hill. And soon He would be mounted on it. He felt the wood rub against a back he did not yet wear.

"Would you go down there?" the angel asked.

"I will."

"Is there no other way?"

"There isn't."

"Wouldn't it be easier to not plant the seed? Wouldn't it be easier to not give the choice?"

"It would," the Creator spoke slowly. "But to remove the choice is to remove the love."

He looked around the hill and foresaw a scene. Three figures hung on three crosses. Arms spread. Heads fallen forward. They moaned with the wind. Men clad in soldiers' garb sat on the ground near the trio. They played games in the dirt and laughed. Men clad in religion stood off to one side. They smiled. Arrogant, cocky. They had protected God, they thought, by killing this false one. Women clad in sorrow huddled at the foot of the hill...

Speechless. Faces tear-streaked. Eyes downward. One put her arm around another and tried to lead her away. She wouldn't leave.

"I will stay," she said softly. "I will stay."

All heaven stood to fight. All nature rose to rescue. All eternity poised to protect. But the Creator gave no command. "It must be done..." He said, and withdrew. But as he stepped back in time, He heard the cry that He would someday scream: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" He wrenched at tomorrow's agony.

The angel spoke again. "It would be less painful..."

The Creator interrupted softly. "But it wouldn't be love."

They stepped into the Garden again. The Maker looked earnestly at the clay creation. A monsoon of love swelled up within Him. God's form bent over the sculptured face and breathed. Dust stirred on the lips of the new one. The chest rose, cracking the red mud. The cheeks freshened. A finger moved and an eye opened.

But more incredible than the moving of flesh was the stirring of the spirit. Those who could see the unseen gasped. Perhaps it was the wind who said it first. Perhaps what the stars saw that moment is what has made them blink ever since. Maybe it was left to an angel to whisper it: "It looks like... it appears so much like...it is Him!"

The angel wasn't speaking of the face, the features, or the body. He was looking inside--at the soul. "It's eternal!" gasped another.

Within the man, God had placed a divine seed. A seed of his self. The God of might had created, not a creature, but another creator. And the One who had chosen to love had created one who could love in return.

Have there ever been times in your life when you doubted God's power? Surely if he was the God who made the heavens and the earth, how could he allow my friend to die? How could He allow millions to starve every night? Isn't God suppose to be almighty?

Let's stop blaming God and blame ourselves. He spared not even Himself to bring about the salvation of man. He knew that He could lose us and yet created us. The most beautiful of all is that He gave us a choice to love Him because He first loved us.