Friday, September 23, 2005

Thoughts on Free Will

The question of free will seems one of the most difficult for Christians to understand. Is God in charge? Is it grace? How does my action fit in?

"Be careful what you pray for. Your prayer will be answered." What would you think if you heard that from God? Who is in charge? Is it me? Is it God? Or is it more like God's answer to the Israelites when they asked for a king. I'll give you what you ask for, but there are consequences. (1 Samuel 8:4-22)

The whole God is fully in charge/free will thing is a paradox. Both are true, but whatever your perspective, it is crucial to see the other perspective at the same time. Knowing God is in charge, He asks me to be obedient. Obedient, knowing I cannot know all I need to know.

There are two stories that help understand. When you understand their myth, you can understand the paradox of free will. The first is Peter in the boat. Jesus says: "Come." Peter steps from the boat into the storm. Peter on his own has no chance of walking on water, it is only when he keeps his eyes on Jesus he is able to perform this miracle. God is fully in charge. (Matthew 14:22-33)

God tells me: "Come." I step out into the storm, knowing it is not in my own strength. When my son calls at 3AM, talking of suicide, I listen to God, as I speak to my son, so God's power flows through me.

The second is the story of the prodigal. His father chose to give him the money, knowing full well the terrible danger he lets his son face alone. He lets him go. Yet he waits, searching, waiting. When the prodigal returns, he has nothing to offer his father. All he can think is to return as slave, but before he can speak, he is embraced. His father orders the fatted calf slaughtered, and they party. (Luke 15:11-32)

Like the prodigal, I have nothing to offer. My best, just filthy rags. Yet my Father embraces me, offers me the royal robe. All I have to do is accept. It is utter and complete grace.

God lets us go so we can come to Him. My first poem in December 1996, came from this understanding, when Alice died. The poem is posted August 10th, 2005 in the blog.

Here is another poem on what God demands;
related to walking on water.
Related to obedience.
Related to God being in charge.
Related to loaves and fishes.
The Loaves & Fish
You want bread.
You want healing
physical kind.
You come:
In pain.
In loss.
In confusion.
Asking for help.

You don’t understand.
You’re like My disciples
blind to what I said.
You don’t know
what the loaves & fish meant.
When I come to you
over the water.
You pull back in terror.

Like Herod & John
you’re interested
but puzzled.
You don’t understand
what the loaves & fish mean.
I didn’t come
for mere healing
or to answer your prayers.

My demand so much stronger
more dangerous
more impossible…
I demand you give up your life.
Like Peter step out
from seeming safe boat.
Join me
walking on water.
(Matthew 14:22-31, Mark 8:1-21)
© May 17th, 2001, Presbypoet


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home