PRINCIPLE: “When you want to be picky, pick well.”
Ever watch your children or grandchildren during a meal? There’s a wonderful fruit salad – and when asked if they want any, they say, “I don’t like melon; I just want the grapes and strawberries.” Or it’s a pizza with several toppings – and they say “I don’t like pepperoni – or mushrooms; just give me the cheese.” Certainly being picky eaters is not limited to children, but observing children lately I began to think – wouldn’t it be a great world if we could pick and choose what life serves us? “I don’t like illness – I just want health. I don’t want trials – just give trouble free living.” “I don’t like ______, I want ______.” You fill in the blanks.
It might be great; but then again, it might not. After all, do we really know what’s best for us? Would we really want the responsibility of choosing what does and doesn’t happen to and around us? Such questions can be fun to discuss, but in reality are pointless. We can’t choose the menu for our lives. The wise preacher, in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, stated it eloquently: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” The preacher reminds us that all these things happen to us – they are all on the menu of life. And for the most part we do not get to choose when they appear. And that’s often frustrating. We’d much rather be in control.
Perhaps we need to learn from Paul (Phil. 4:11-13): “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” The word ‘learned’ means instructed or initiated into – so Paul Is saying the circumstances of his life – which he did not choose – had taught him not to worry about what comes, but to respond wisely. Even as he wrote these words he was in prison awaiting a verdict on his life. And the secret he learned? “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Paul, too, was picky – but he focused on picking how to respond so he could make it through and even overcome what the menu ordered. It’s a good thing to remember – “When you want to be picky, pick well.” Nothing says we have to like the menu; the issue is since we cannot choose the menu, what do we do with it? We can spend our time and energy trying to pick and choose – or we can take our serving knowing that “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Which will you pick? “When you want to be picky, pick well.”
Because Paul gave up trying to control his life and let Jesus take over, because he knew the source of strength, he could survive and overcome – and even witness to Jesus while doing so. (4:4-7) “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” “When you want to be picky, pick well.” I appreciate how Eugene Petersen put it in The Message: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
The next time you don’t like the menu, what will you pick? “When you want to be picky, pick well.”