With Me?…Without Me!Jul 14, 2023
One of mine and Tom’s favorite lines in a movie is the one Roy Miller (played by Tom Cruise) relayed to June Havens (played by Cameron Diaz) in Knight and Day.
Many times Tom and I have reminded each other that we have a choice to make. And in that moment we can choose to have what is better, aka, « with me » —that which is what we personally want to persuade the other to do; or « without me » —that which we don’t want the other to do. In Knight and Day, June really is better off with Roy, because she’s in way over her head and Roy knows what he’s doing. Along the way, however, Roy discovers that June actually has a knack for living in his dangerous world, they fall in love and eventually live happily ever after (or at least long enough to enjoy a romantic peace full rendezvous in South America.)
This is how the world presents to us 2 biblical concepts:
1. The freedom of choice: FREE WILL.
2. The wisdom of choosing wisely.
Another of my favorite lines in a movie is in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indiana watches Walter Donovan melt after drinking from what he thought was the holy grail. The ancient Grail Knight simply says, « He chose poorly. »
There is such freedom in knowing that I get to make the decisions that create the life I live. And there’s really no other way for God to love us than for Him to give this freedom to us.
Of course, there are things that happen to us that we’re not in control of, but we still get to choose how we’ll respond to those things. Thus, we do have some control over just how those things affect us.
And with the freedom to make our own choices comes the impact of the choices we make. When the consequences of our choices are delivered, we discover whether of not we made the best decision.
It could sometimes be said of me, « she chose poorly. » But nonetheless, the choices are mine to make.
Yesterday Tom and I traveled from Virgin, Utah to Las Vegas, Nevada, but first we turned left on North Kolob Terrace Road rather than right when we left Under the Canvas (our humble yet fancy digs and introduction to glamping.). One of the friendly employees at Under the Canvas told us about the reservoir at roughly 9000 ft altitude just 25 minutes up the road, and we decided we couldn’t leave our bucket list trip to Zion National Park without checking it out. (It was a good choice; a « with me » kind of decision.) After hiking and begin at nearly 100 degree temps the past 2 days, a trip to the heights where the temperature was at least 20 degrees cooler was all the invitation we needed.
We arrived at the reservoir after soaking in breathtaking vistas along the way, and traversing from desert terrain to alpine mountain wonder and this is what we saw:
The picture can’t communicate the cool air, and wildflower fragrance that filled it. Nor can it express the smile that reached our soul! Mind you we’d been « glamping » in July, in the desert, where the temperatures didn’t dip into the 80’s until after midnight. But not here! Here the temps never reached the 80’s and were barely above 65 at 8:30AM on Thursday morning!
Momma and Daddy geese were swimming with their goslings right alone with Momma ducks chasing their teenager duckling through the marshes.
The people who knew about this place made a good choice to camp there!
After enjoying our mini-excursion to a tiny piece of heaven-on-earth, we headed down from the heights through the edge of Arizona to Nevada where we got off Interstate 15 to travel another road less traveled so that we could take a quick side trip to the Valley of Fire State Park. I’ll write another post about the Valley of Fire another time.
On our way there we saw people camping on a hill under power lines in the middle of a barren…and I mean, BARREN land.
The harsh, hot, hard and parched place.
This campground, (if you could call it that—it looked like a place where people randomly pulled their RV’s and just parked!) couldn’t even begin to compare to what we’d seen earlier. Tom and I wondered why, on God’s brown and baked earth, did these people choose to camp here?!
Just a few hours up the road they could’ve had this!
And then, the spiritual connection started flowing (we can’t help it). Tom and I began to consider how people don’t know what they’re missing. It’s like God’s offering the Kolob Terrace Reservoir, and they’re choosing the Valley of Fire outback!
The sad thing is that they don’t even know what they’re missing.
But aren’t we like that? We prefer to live our lives on our own terms. At an early age we begin to understand what it means to live under authority and the rebel in us looks forward to the day when we can kiss our authorities goodbye and choose for ourselves how we will live!
We want to make our own rules—or have none!
We determine to embrace our own destinies! And dare any one or any God to determine those destinies for us.
And too often our choices land us here near the Valley of Fire. We set up camp and never know what we’re missing.
God’s got more for our lives if only we’d understand that « with Me » is so much better than « without Me! »
This would be a great place to end this post, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that sometimes following God lands us smack dab in the middle of the Valley of Fire. It’s hard, we’re hot, we don’t like it.
But if we press into Jesus, He will not only eventually deliver us to the mountain top; but He’ll also allow the certainty of the mountain top to live in us so that we find rest there (where it dwells in our soul) as we endure the parched places with Him.
Without Him we might live our entire lives eeking out our existence in the Valley of Fire scrimping and scraping for a bit of shade where we can. Then when we get to the end of our lives we discover that we get to spend eternity doing the same.
Or, we could work hard, manage the hiccups life throws our way with resolve, discipline, and spiritual practice so that we live on our own version of the mountain top. But the day willl come when we discover that even if we were experts at doing life on earth; we weren’t sufficient enough to manage eternity, and when it’s too late to change our minds we’ll end up in the Valley of Fire, forever.
Want to know the worst part about ending up there? Once you arrive, you’ll discover that this does exist and you could’ve chosen it.
God wants to know which it’s going to be: « With Me? …Without Me! »
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