God is in control, BUT…
Does God control everything that is going on in this world?
Has He determined history so that there is nothing we can do to change it?
We know from the Bible that God has numbered the hairs on our head and that He’s aware when even a sparrow falls, but does that mean that everything about us is planned ahead of time?
I used to think that God was in absolute and complete control, of everything. That history was settled and unchanging. That is until I read a book, “God of the Possible” by Gregory Boyd. I started in reading and finding ways to argue with him, but as I got further into his book, I found myself agreeing with his arguments.
In this short piece, I am not going to even try and cover all the reasons he brings up for God allowing for possibilities, but I will throw some ideas of my own. If you want to dive deeper into this I suggest getting his book “God of the Possible” and pour through it. I will warn you, he does get a bit deep sometimes.
So, is God really in control?
This comes down to the argument between predestination and free will. Are we predestined to do certain things or do we have free will? Is our life all laid out or can we change the direction we are heading?
If there is no REAL true Free Will, then there would be no reason for God to put so much emphasis on prayer. If what we are going to do and how we are going to end is all fixed, then why pray at all. If the future is set, then why are told to bring our requests to God or to ask for things or for help?
If there is no Free Will, then we might as well give up and stop trying and let whatever is supposed to happen, happen.
What good is it to work hard to better ourselves if there is nothing we can do to improve our lot in life?
But we do have Free Will.
God gives it to us in our ability to choose to love Him and accept His son Jesus as our savior or not. We can choose to follow Him or not. Many times I have written and said that God will not force us to believe, we have to come to Him willingly. So if God is giving us Free Will to accept Him or reject Him doesn’t it follow that we have Free Will in the other aspects of our lives?
We can choose what to study in school, whether or not to go to college, what job to take, who to marry and so on. We make many choices over the course of our lives.
Over and over again in the Bible God tells us to trust Him, if we didn’t have Free Will, there would be no possibility of us not trusting Him, would there. If God tells us to trust Him we must therefore have the ability to not trust Him. Again, we have the choice.
We make choices each and every day of our lives. Some of these choices do affect not only small things in our lives, but the very direction our lives take from then on.
The free will choices we make affect not only our lives but the lives of those around us. If we choose to text and drive, for example, and an accident happens, that choice affects not only our lives, but the life of the person we hit and the lives of all those around them.
Jesus tells us that in this life we will have troubles, but then goes on to comfort us by telling us that He will be with us through them all. But He doesn’t say that He will keep us from them.
I am not saying that God doesn’t know the future that would be foolish. A third of the Bible is prophecy so clearly there are somethings about the future that God is going to make happen. There are somethings that are not going to change, no matter what we do or how we pray. There are somethings that God is not going to change His mind on.
Jesus was going to be born and was going to the cross for our sins. He was going to be resurrected on the third day as well. Jesus is coming back at some point in the future, this we know and nothing we can do is going to change that. There will be a judgment of this world and the people in it who have not accepted Christ and who have turned their backs on God. That is going to happen and we can’t stop it. All we can do is pray for or try and help those who have never accepted Christ to come to Him before it’s too late.
How much of our lives are fixed and how much of them are open to possibilities, I don’t know. Only God can answer that question.
Even if we don’t follow Him, God is in control.
In the book of Esther, her uncle tells Esther that she is in the right place at the right time to save her people, but that if she doesn’t follow through, God will raise up someone else to do the job. That tells me that we have a choice to make in this world, but if we choose not to follow God’s leading, He will work with some else to make sure what has to happen does happen.
God has given us Free Will and He knows what is best not only for us, but for His plans as well. He knows what will happen to us if we go right or left when we hit that fork in the road. He will try and direct us onto the correct path, but it’s up to us to listen and follow His leadings.
Sadly most of us learn the hard way, and take to many wrong paths in our lives.
But no matter what path we choose God has promised to be there with us, even if we take the wrong one. Sometimes we have made the correct choice, but someone else has chosen poorly. When our lives are affected by someone who has made a poor choice, God will be there for us in that as well.
We all make choices, some good and some bad.
The Bible talks in several places about names being blotted out of the “Book of Life.” If that is so, then we must be able to do something so bad, that it causes God to take us off His list. If our names were at one time written in the “Book of Life” but then blotted out, we must have had the Free Will to make a wrong choice, so wrong that we are truly lost.
This is just my thought, but I feel that once we are created, all our names are written in the book of life, but at some point, if we reject God and His Son, those names are blotted out. The Bible tells us in 1st Timothy 2:4 that it’s God; “…who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
But in the verses before that, Paul tells us to pray for all people, that they may live peaceful and quiet lives. This tells me that even though God wants all people to be saved, we can still make the wrong choices and we all are in need of prayer.
God is indeed in control, but…
He is in control in that there is much He can do to lead us and this world in the right direction, much that He can do to protect us as well. I know that He has lead and protected me in my own life. But He is also forced at times to let us go our own way, even if that way leads us away from Him and His love. At times I have gone my own way and strayed from the path He would have had me take. But He has always been there with me and kept guiding me back to Him.
Even though I have taken the wrong path, He has worked things in my life out for His and my good, just as Romans 8:28 tells us.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
God truly loves us, but for there to be real Love, there must be a choice. We must choose to Love God and we have the Free Will to do that.
But even if we choose the wrong path, God is faithful to love us. As Paul tells us just a few verses down in Romans 8:37-39;
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God is in control, but…
There are definitely somethings that ARE going to happen in the future and God is going to make sure that they do. But there would appear to be somethings that God will allow to happen even if it breaks His heart to do so, because He must give us the freedom to go our own way.
I do not know how much of my life has been ordered by God and made to happen or how much has been a result of my choices. I do know that watching my Mom get through years of my Dad in the hospital helped me deal with my late wife Cara and the years of pain and frustration she went through. I know that God had someone in mind for me after Cara passed, and made it crystal clear that we were in His plan years before we met.
My point is this, God has plans for our lives, but it’s up to us to follow those plans. Yes, He is in control, but He is also secure enough to let us have the freedom we must have to follow Him or not.
There are somethings that God is not going to change His mind about, and there would appear to be somethings that He is willing to give a little on. Like the parable that Jesus told about the wicked judge who finally gave into the widow who kept coming to him for justice. We are to keep coming to Him with our requests even if He seems to say no to them. We are to keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking.
I find that God does know best. That even when we take the wrong path and mess-up God will work it out in such a way that when we look back, we’ll probably not be able to see where we went wrong. God has worked things out so well that we think that is the way it was always supposed to be.
God is truly in control but He loves us and because of that love He has to give us room to make mistakes. But like the good father He is, He will be there to pick us up when we fall and help us get back on the correct path.
When someone else makes a mistake and that mistake affects our lives, He will be there for us and get us through.
Make no mistake, God is in control and He loves you.
He wants the best for you, but for that to happen in the right way, we need to listen to Him when He is leading us. We need to follow Him.
But we also need to know and believe that even when we don’t listen and don’t follow, He will still be there to help us get back on track.
God wants to be in control of your life because He knows what is best for you, so trust Him and listen for that still small voice and follow His leadings.