February 1, 2015
Mark 1:21-28
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Psalm 111

Choose Life

Epiphany 6 | Ordinary Time 6

from the book
Lectionary Tales For The Pulpit
Series IV, Cycle A

Gregory L. Tolle

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I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the LORD swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (vv. 19--20)

Michael was the kind of guy who had such a positive outlook that you either loved him or hated him. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!" He was a natural motivator. If a co-worker was having a bad day, Michael would encourage them and help them to see the positive side of the situation.

A friend asked how he could be so positive all the time. After all, it seemed so unnatural compared to the rest of the world. Michael replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, 'You have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or ... you can choose to be in a bad mood.' I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or ... I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or ... I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life."

The friend protested that even though it sounded great in theory it would be hard to live out.

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Michael responded, "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live your life."

Several years later, Michael was involved in a serious accident as he fell sixty feet from a communications tower. As he lay on the ground, the first thing he thought of was the well-being of his soon-to-be-born daughter. Then, he remembered that he had two choices: He could choose to live or ... he could choose to die. He chose to live.

The paramedics arrived and went to work. They kept telling Michael that he was going to be fine. But when they wheeled him into the ER, he saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses. He began to feel fear overcoming his body because he could read their eyes: "He's a dead man." He knew he needed to take action.

A big burly nurse was shouting questions. She asked Michael if he was allergic to anything. He replied, "Yes." The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for Michael to fill in the missing blank of his allergy. He took a deep breath and yelled, "Gravity." Over their laughter, he said, "I am choosing to live. Operate on me with that understanding."

After eighteen hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Michael was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back. Michael lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, and also because of his amazing attitude. When asked about his health, Michael would respond, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Want to see my scars?"