I know my baby girl will pick up whatever is in front of her and put it into her mouth. It’s her nature, it’s who she is and what she does. I know my daughter and I know this is what she does EVERY time. If I wanted to ensure that Sophia picked up a rattle and put it in her mouth, I could be 100% certain that she would do so simply by placing it in front of her. I don’t have to coerce her into putting the rattle in her mouth, she does so happily of her own volition…I simply have to place the rattle in her path. She chooses to put the rattle in her mouth, and I, knowing who she is and what she will choose simply orchestrate the circumstances so that there is a rattle nearby. I get exactly what I planned, and she remains responsible for choosing. And it works every time.
In a similar vein, it's possible that God so orchestrates every variable in every situation of our life so that He, with 100% certainty, accomplishes His purposes. By manipulating the variables, by placing the “rattles” in our path, God ensures that we will freely choose what He intended us to choose. We happily chose what we wanted, yet God so brings to pass all that He intended. Some may be offended by this apparent “false” freedom, but it is an undeniable fact of our existence! Think about all the things you don’t control in your life. You don’t control when, where, and to whom you were born. You don’t control how you look, what your talents are, and how you were raised. You don’t choose what elementary school you went to, who your teachers were, what they taught you or who sat next to you in 5th grade. You don’t choose how long the bank line is going to be, or if you’ll get caught at all the traffic signals on your ride home today. You don’t choose if the grocery store will be out of your favorite cereal, or if a loved one will be diagnosed with cancer. We are not truly free no matter how we spin it. We have uncontrollable variables pushing down on us every second of every day. Could it be that God is orchestrating all that comes to pass AROUND us, in order to do what He wants to IN us? I believe the answer is yes, and I believe the Bible affirms it. “…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil 2:13). See, God is the one working. He is the one causing. Yet, just prior to that, in verse 12, Paul writes a command that “YOU work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” It is we who choose to do so.
We must be careful not to minimize either God’s sovereignty nor our responsibility to choose. Both are absolutely vital to a Biblical understanding of God and ourselves. Be thankful that God is sovereign and in control. Trust Him. And ask Him to help you choose well…every time.
"...lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil..."