So I’m studying Wayne Grudem’s Bible Doctrine, and this week we are in the chapter on God’s Providence. Grudem is pretty firmly in the Calvinist camp, but he also discusses the Arminian point of view. You know, I was a Christian for over 20 years before I knew there was a Calvinist or an Arminian camp. Go figure.
We believers wrestle with God’s sovereignty and knowing He is in control of all things and the fact that evil exists in the world. Does God cause evil? Does He use evil? What about our free will? If we have free will, how can God be in control? Greater minds than mine have expounded at length. I guess I have a simpler faith.
God is bigger than I can comprehend. He can appear to be a paradox to my finite mind while still adhering to His own holy nature and remaining the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Since the Bible is without error and incapable of contradicting itself, I can only believe that God is both in control and gives us free will. Quoting a pastor friend, “Like the concept of Trinity, this is a kingdom issue and being that the kingdom is ‘here but not yet,’ we can’t fully understand sovereignty versus free will this side of glory.”
I’ve always understood that God does not simply see the future but that He is already in the future.
If God wanted me to build a church across the street from my house, but I didn’t answer the call, then He would call someone else to build it. His will of having a church built would still be done, but I, due to my free will, would miss the blessing of obedience. Would God know in advance that my choice would be to disobey? Of course. Would He teach me a valuable lesson through that choice? Of course. Would His will be done in my life as well as His will of having that church built? Of course. Is God in control? Yes! Do I have free will to screw up? Unfortunately, yes.
In my own life, I can see that the problems that have beset me have been used of God to refine me. I believe without doubt that nothing enters my life that He doesn’t (a) cause or (b) allow.
According to Luke 22:31-32, God allows Satan to act, to sift, in this present age — Satan has to ask God’s permission to sift us — and then God uses it. In hindsight, I can see that He has taken some pretty horrid things in my life (some caused by my own foolish choices/actions) and turned them to good because I love Him and am called according to His purpose.
When my youngest was five, she wanted to go to the school bus stop alone. She was the only kid who was picked up at the corner, which I could see out of my family room window. I reminded her that she had to stand right on the corner or the bus went by. There was a four year old girl who lived in that house on the corner. Sure enough, as I watched, my daughter got distracted by that little girl when she came out on the porch, and she left the corner to go play. Pretty soon, here came the bus, and it whooshed right on by. I had known what would happen. I could see what she was setting herself up for. But I allowed it to happen because I knew she would learn a valuable lesson from it. As soon as the bus went by, I grabbed my purse and car keys and headed out the door. By the time I arrived at the corner, there was Daughter #2, in tears of despair. She’d missed the bus. She was going to miss school. Gently, I reminded her that she’d been told not to leave the corner. I loved her, kissed her, put her in the car, and drove her to school so she wouldn’t miss class.
I was in control. I certainly could have stopped her before she missed the bus. But I let it happen for the good that would come out of it.
God is in control. There are countless times He protects me from myself and my willful nature. There are others when He lets me go my own way for the lessons I will learn. Sometimes those lessons are darn hard, but I have learned to be thankful for them, nonetheless.
Well, it is time that I refocus on my manuscript and the rewrites I must finish this month. Yesterday, in addition to watching the television for all the election news, taking my car in for oil change & tire rotation, being interviewed on the radio, and posting too often to this blog, I made my various reservations for my upcoming TV interviews. Now I must work, work, work on the book.
Today’s Bible Reading: John 5-6