Especially in Western cultures, we glory in our individuality, in our self-determination. We tell our children, “You can be anything you want to be.” Of course, it’s not true but we want to build confidence in them so we repeat the lie we were told. The point is, we cling tenaciously to this idea that we have a choice to make, and that it is ours to make for ourselves. Period. Free will is, in our opinion, an unalienable right.
But free will is both one of the greatest gifts of God and the greatest curses. With free will there are consequences as sure as throwing a stone in a pond causes ripples to go forth. As our stone cannot control the ripples, neither can you or I control what happens when a choice is made. While you may be able to retrieve the stone, the ripples cannot be stopped until they run their course.
To choose foolishly, to sin, leads to ripples that touch others, creating consequences, wreaking havoc way beyond the initial act. In a similar way, to choose God’s way leads to blessings we could not have imagined, to people we unknowingly bless and who bless us, to reaping a harvest of righteousness that makes no sense from the tiny seed we have sown.
Established by God to work as certainly as He created the gravity to keep you from spinning off into space, free will is programmed to perform unerringly according to God’s dictates. So, free will has no free will. But I digress.
How often I have wished that I could go to the altar and confess the sins of another person, to seek God’s forgiveness and to be born again through the Spirit on their behalf. But I cannot. Their free will says that they must do that for themselves. Our free will dictates that our sin is solely our possession, that we can resist God Himself if we so desire. But only for so long.
In keeping with the stone in the pond idea, we find as we go along, other people are throwing their stones, too. And their ripples start colliding with ours. We are blindsided at times with disaster, unexpectedly blessed at other times. All this free will is like watching cars zoom crazily on a superhighway. Collisions happen.
And whether we like it or not, free will has its limits. It is not eternal. Choosing will end.
Imagine tossing your little stone into the path of a tsunami, as senseless as it is dangerous. Someday, like a tsunami, will come the judgment of God. Standing defiantly while declaring your right to choose on that day will be as effective as tossing your stone into the oncoming, irresistible tsunami of God’s overwhelming judgment.
Use your free will wisely. Toss your stone into the boundless ocean of God’s salvation. Or go your own way until you can’t go any longer.
That choice is yours.