Books and Reading / I've Been Thinking


You are free to choose, but the choices you make today will determine what you will be, do and have in the tomorrow’s of your life. – Zig Ziglar

This is a powerful quote – one to bring us to a screeching halt. You are free to choose, and, at the same time the choices you make send ripples far into your future. I have a friend who says, “you are free to choose, but you cannot choose the consequences.” Aye, there’s the rub.

Through our choices relationships of every kind may be won or lost. Integrity destroyed or built up; trust, decimated or fortified; careers, advanced or truncated. Heartache brought on by lack of wisdom or foresight. Our decisions concentric outward circles on clear lake. 

Lives and destinies

Futures, and lives and destinies – all these live within choices. Each choice a spiral, each spiral touching another spiral, a dance if you will. Weaving, around and about. Bowing left or right. March forward, or turn and go the opposite way.

Biblical examples

History is replete with examples. I will cite only a few. From the dawn of time, “you may eat the fruit of every tree in the garden – except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil… then the serpent asked the woman, did God really say?…  so she took some fruit and ate it” Gen. 2:15- 16; Gen. 3:1b; Gen. 3:6b.

And so, Paradise Lost. 

Cain and Abel – slithering in comes jealousy, coveting – {the Lord talks to Cain} “… do what is right… Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master… {but} Cain attacked his brother, Abel and killed him.” Gen. 4: 7-8.

And now, there is murder. Sin, sickness, pain, death and every kind of evil. Choices. One choice after another.

Think Isaac and Ishmael.  Of Sarah’s impatience, her longing to receive the promise of a son. She introduces Hagar into the equation, now there are two boys. This choice reverberates to this very day. The cause of pain, agony, and war after war. And only unending enmity and death between them.

Hagar and Ishmael


Literature too, gives many examples. Gone with the Wind, a seminal piece on the Civil War in the US by Margaret Mitchell. Misunderstandings abound, the main characters choose to chase a dream, a fantasy life, eschewing the substantial love that could have been theirs. What happens when it is too late? When choices have destroyed any future good.

And the decision to go to war pits brother against brother and leads to heartache beyond compare. The fires lit, the burning of Atlanta. The end of an age. Choices. Again.

East of Eden

John Steinbeck’s, East of Eden is a dynamic novel – a treatise on choice. There is bitterness, hatred, and destruction. Lives destroyed by deception and evil. Yet, there is choice. 

Thou mayest

There is a pivotal conversation that takes place between Samuel and Lee, his manservant.  They discuss the fourth chapter of Genesis, in relation to “thou shalt, or “thou mayest.” 

“Samuel said,… why is this word so important?”
Lee’s hand shook as he filled the delicate cups. He drank his down in one gulp. “Don’t you see”?” He cried. “The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin… The King James translation make a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word,
“timshel “- ‘Thou mayest’ – that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’ – it is also true that – ‘Thou mayest not.” Don’t you see… this, this is a ladder to climb to the stars.” Lee’s eyes shone. It cuts the feet from under weakness and cowardice and laziness.”

East of Eden

End of life

Later in the story, at the end of Samuel’s life, his only remaining son comes to him. Broken, and devoid of hope. Caleb, whose choices cost his father the life of his brother, and brought so much destruction, sits before him. Lee makes a plea to Samuel hovering so close to death and almost unable to speak. 

“Lee said, “Help him, Adam – help him. Give him his chance… Free him! Bless him!” The whole bed seemed to shake under the concentration.  Adam’s breath came quick with his effort and then, slowly, his right hand lifted – lifted an inch and then fell back… Lee whispered, “Thank you, Adam – thank you, my friend. Can you move your lips? Make your lips form his name.” 


“Adam looked up with sick weariness, His lips parted and failed and tried again. Then his lungs filled. His lips expelled the air and combed the rushing sigh. His whispered word seemed to hang in the air: 

East of Eden

Our futures – revolve around choice

Stephen Covey, sums it up in this powerful statement – “I am not a product of my circumstances, I am a product of my decisions.”

And, the Old Testament declares it – clear and sure:

I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life… And love God, your God, listening to him obediently, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself!

Deut. 30:15 & 16a (The Message)

Let’s move forward, with fresh awareness that we have the power to choose – for good. We are not trapped in a cycle of defeat. There is great hope in this!!!

Thou mayest.

“Timshel,” my friends, “Timshel!”


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