"Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! Deuteronomy 30:19 (NLT)
I meet my mat, dripping with sweat, my muscles simultaneously exhausted and energized. This last pose, shavasana (literally corpse pose), is a welcome reprieve. Death is, after all, part of the cycle of life. As my own life has ebbed with changing tides recently, as the movement of breath in and out of my body mirrors the acceptance and letting go of circumstances, people, choices, I find I am met with matters of life and death. This theme of life and death has circulated through both my mind and spirit at least a few times each day.
When I rest my thoughts on life I think about hope and joy, fertility and growth. Life is synonymous with goodness and light. But death seems to darken my thoughts with its shroud of eternal finality. There is not much hope there; unless, of course, you are in Christ (Romans 81-5). Then death is simply a passage between earth and heaven. Death, itself, doesn’t offer much other than the chance to contemplate what once was, all the things that have been. And in the contemplation, it strips them away.
Isn’t that what sin does? Strips away life. And not only does death strip life from us, it strips it from those who will come after us. Death is selfish. Regardless of religion, I believe sin can be defined as choosing death. It may not be that we will keel over on the spot, but there is a part of us that dies every time we choose sin. If it kills the spirit, if it depletes life, if it is death—it is sin. If it is sin, it is death. Sometimes the option of death seems welcoming, pleasurable even, but its destined finality is fatality. Sometimes it is hard to tell it is death because it is disguised so well. I think that’s why I am learning to look more closely. Sometimes the choice obviously screams, “DEATH!” but we choose it anyway. We listen to the hissing, whispered echo from the Garden that “We will not surely die.” We believe a lie. We choose the moment rather than the forever simply because we want to.
The thing about death is, it’s easy. It requires nothing of us, except our life. Life takes work. Life asks us to be a part of it, to be present. It calls us to action. It calls us, at times to be selfless, to consider others needs and happiness and best interests before our own agenda. And every day I am alive, I am given opportunity to choose between life and death. I can choose to drink goodness and blessing into my body or to take darkness and curses into it. The choice between life and death is always before me, before us. I can choose to use words of encouragement or to speak poorly of someone. I can choose generosity of my resources or keep them greedily to myself. I can choose friendship toward the lonely or I can look the other way pretending not to see. I know I am not so perfect that I always choose life. But I hope that more often than not, I am choosing it. I hope that I am learning more and more to recognize life and be a part of it. I hope that heaven and earth witness more life in me than death. I hope that my ”descendants might live.”