Bible Reading:  Ezekiel 18:21-23, 30-32

I only want them to turn from their wicked ways and live. Ezekiel 18:23

TWO OLDER GUYS show up on your front porch on Super Bowl Sunday. They introduce themselves as Ed McMahon and Dick Clark. One of them holds balloons. The other points a microphone at your face. A TV camera crew seems to be filming everything. A big van is parked in front of your house with Prize Patrol painted on the side in big letters.

“Congratulations!” one of them says. “You’ve just won eleven million dollars!”

You roll your eyes. “Yeah, and my mother’s the queen of England!”

One of the guys chuckles heartily. He holds a cardboard check about the size of Nebraska. “Here’s your winner’s check!” He extends it in your direction.

You shake your head and start to close the door. “Look,” you say, “halftime’s almost over. I gotta get back in the house.” You start to close the door.

One of the guys wedges a foot in your door. “This is for real!” he says. “We really want to give you eleven million dollars!”

“Look,” you say, “you’re wasting my time, all right? Now, go away, before I call the cops!” And you slam the door.

Now, you’d never act so rudely, of course. And you’d at least take that big cardboard check and try to cash it, right? You might be a little suspicious, but you wouldn’t blow a chance like that, right? Or would you?

In some ways we all do that, day after day. Oh, Ed McMahon and Dick Clark don’t appear on our doorsteps every day. But God does. And, like the two guys in the story above, God just wants to give us good things to make our life better and to make our futures secure. Over and over again he tells us that he loves us and just wants to do good to us. Over and over again he pleads with us to trust him, trying to convince us that his aim is not to hurt us but to help us.

But we often close the door in his face. We make choices as if God is trying to spoil our fun. We act as though he’s trying to “fake us out,” like there’s a “catch” to his offer of a better life. We seem to think that wrong choices are more desirable than right choices, as though God were trying to keep us from having fun. But that’s not true. In fact, God is not trying to spoil things for us-he wants our life to be good and enjoyable and rewarding. He wants to save us from the disappointment, destruction-and death-that sin causes. “I don’t want you to die,” he says. “I want you to turn from wrong choices so you can really live.”

REFLECT: How is God like the “Prize Patrol” in the story above? How is he different? Do you have trouble believing that God loves you? that obeying his commands will protect you? that wrong choices will hurt you? If you really trust God’s love, how should that affect the choices you make?

PRAY: “God, help me to make right choices and really live today!”

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