Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Cost and Power of Free Will

“God created things which had free will.  That means creatures which can go wrong or right.  Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can't.  If a thing is free to be good it's also free to be bad.  And free will is what has made evil possible.  Why, then, did God give them free will?  Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.  A world of automata—of creatures that worked like machines—would hardly be worth creating.  The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water.  And for that they've got to be free.

Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk….  If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will—that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings—then we may take it it is worth paying.”

                                                               C.S. Lewis
                                                               The Case For Christianity

Our Lord and Vision

I have recently been introduced to a new song, a song that expresses trust when the Lord is painfully silent:
                        “When You don’t move the mountains
                        I’m needing you to move
                        When You don’t part the waters
                        I wish I could walk through
                        When you don’t give the answers
                        As I cry out to You
                        I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you”
                                                  (Lauren Daigle, MIchale Farren, Paul Mabury)

The last verse of an old traditional hymn, “Be Thou My Vision,” has the singer ask this of God:
                        “Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
                        Be Thou my vision, O, Ruler of all”
                                                            (Author Unknown)

These words imply the importance of depending on the Lord, by faith, even when difficult times befall.

Suffering and trials are helpful reminders that we are fallen people in a fallen world, much in the need of rescue.  They are also opportunities to trust our Lord to redeem—work good out of—even the most difficult of times.  This is a good thing.  But these songs also expose another facet of a life of faith.

What do we do when the Lord does move mountains, parts waters, smooths our paths?  After the initial (and appropriate) expression of praise, do we maintain our Lord as our Vision?  Or do we play what I like to call the Garden Game and begin to live life on our own?  It is easy to say/think/behave in such a way as to express, “Thanks, God!  I can take it from here!”

The truth is that it is as crucial to exercise faith and trust in Christ in easy times as it is in difficult circumstances.  When Jesus exhorted His disciples to abide in Him (John 15), He did not attach a “but only in the hard times” caveat.  If we are to deepen our relationship with our Lord and bear fruit for His kingdom and His glory, then we need to attend to our life of faith.  As God is good all the time, so we walk in faith all the time.

Yes, yes, yes, we must trust the Lord as our Vision during difficult times.  And, yes, yes, yes, we must trust the Lord as our Vision in easier times.  May the Lord be our Vision whatever befalls, even—and perhaps especially—in the easy times.