A Safe Place to Explore Questions About Life and God
A Safe Place to Explore Questions About Life and God
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Free will and the art of making decisions...

What's the biggest decision you will ever make? Let's come back to that question later. Instead, think about this: you can make decisions. You can make decisions! In case you've never thought about it before, please realize: making decisions is an extraordinary function.

Why does a salmon swim upstream once a year? Because it decides to? Or because some instinct within it propels it to? It likely has no choice in the matter.

But a college graduate can move to New York or Cleveland, provided she's had job offers in both cities. She has to make a choice, not based on instinct. Will it be New York or Cleveland? Maybe the job in Cleveland pays better, but she'd still rather live in New York. To choose one or the other will mean a "yes" and a "no." She will be saying "yes" to the city of her choosing, and "no" to the city she's decided not to take the job in.

We make "yes" and "no" decisions all the time. Possibly thousands in a given day. Have you ever considered what an incredible ability this is? Have you ever considered what life's most important decision is?

Decision Making Requires Options

The ability to choose is quite remarkable. If your major requires a foreign language component, you can choose what you want. Will it be French, Russian, German, or Spanish? You are not instinctively forced to take one over another. Instead, you weigh your options and say "yes" to one and "no" to all the others.

A boy who grows up in the Dominican Republic does not decide who his parents will be, what city he will be raised in, what language he will speak. But as he grows older, his world of options increases. If he makes it through primary education, he can join the military or go to college. Which will it be?

He did not choose to be born in the Dominican Republic, but if he studies hard in college, gets his medical degree and makes enough money, he might decide to leave his homeland and open a clinic in another country.

Many things are forced upon us initially. Who our parents are, where we are born, what gender and race we are. But as life goes on, we learn that we can and must make choices, ones that involve multiple options. In a healthy home, a dad helps his teenagers to understand that they must make decisions in life, and that there are consequences to life's decisions.

People make decisions with regard to the options available to them. If they have no options, they don't have a decision to make. But if they have more than one option, a choice must be made. Even a decision not to decide is actually in itself a decision.

Some decisions are more important than others. Whether a woman has John or Ted as a marriage partner is much more important than whether she has waffles or pancakes for breakfast. It's more important because who she will marry has greater, more lasting consequences. Also, it's more important because John and Ted are more important than waffles and pancakes.

What we see is that the importance of a decision is tied to two things: 1) what its consequences will be, and 2) what persons or things the decision involves.

For example, who you will marry is a very important decision. It involves another human being, and the person chosen will bring great and lasting consequences to your life. So, with that in mind, what's the most important decision you will ever make?

When Decision Making Becomes Important

Consider this: the most important decision you will ever make is what you will do with God.

Think about it. If God is who most people think he is, then God is the most important person in existence. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He is the one being who has always existed and is here to stay, no matter what.

If you decide to have onion rings instead of french fries, that's no big deal. If you buy a plaid shirt instead of a solid red one, what does it matter, really? If you marry Bill instead of Brad, or Mandy instead of Marcia -- even though that's quite important, in the long run how important is it compared to whether or not you choose to be wed to God?

And that is exactly the situation we find ourselves in. For God has allowed us to say "I do" or "I don't" to him. We can enter the divine matrimony or reject it altogether. We can say "yes" or "no" to the God of all creation. And not deciding is actually a decision.

Now, consider, this is quite amazing. Imagine that you were loved and adored by the most beautiful, intelligent, witty, loving, and courageous man or woman who ever lived. This perfect person loved you dearly, with a sacrificial love, and wanted to be wed to you for life, actually for an eternity of marital bliss.

What would you say? "I'm sorry. You're not good enough for me."

Yet that is the position that many people (most?1) take with God.

Some Decisions Should Be Easy to Make

If we ever wanted a relationship with anyone, it should be with God. There is no one better to have a relationship with. He's perfectly good, wise, loving, just, fair, respectful, honest and caring. It's likely that just to see his face would mark the greatest moment in our lives.

And yet we say to him, "Thanks anyway but...no thanks." To make such a statement is to declare, in a sense, that he is not good enough for us. How ironic.

But why reject him in the first place? Maybe it's that he's too intimidating. We think, "Who wants to be married to someone who's perfect? They'd be noticing my faults all the time!" But God doesn't ask us to be perfect, but merely to come to him in our imperfection. He even says he will remove our imperfections in the next life, so that we will be more like him.

Okay, then what is it? Why reject someone as awesome as God? God only knows. For each person, the reason may be different.

In any case, it is very, very humble for God to allow us to decide on such a matter. It's really the great condescension.

Think about it. God is God and we are not. We need him but he doesn't need us. He can exist without us. He always has. But we can't exist without him. We never have.

And he knows that he is the best thing for us. He knows he's the most beautiful, intelligent, honest, loving, and caring person who ever lived. He knows that if we really submitted ourselves to having a relationship with him, it would be in our best interest. In fact, there is nothing that could be better for us. Nothing.

Therefore, by all rights, he shouldn't permit us to decide against him. But he does. He allows us to say the big "no thanks." Even though, in truth, who are we to reject him?

He Leaves the Decision Making Up to Us

The great condescension is that God stands ready and waiting to receive us to himself, whenever we will finally come around to him, though we should have been going to him all along. Were he a snob or one who holds grudges, he wouldn't receive us at all. For it would be (and actually is) beneath him to receive us after we have initially rejected him.

But God shows mercy and grace. He is compassionate. He is patient. He knocks on the door of our hearts and waits for an answer. He allows us to make the great decision. Is there a more haunting "no" than the "no" said to God? Is there a more fulfilling "yes" than the "yes" said to God?

For info on having a relationship with God, see Knowing God Personally.

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 How to know God...

(1) "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (The Bible, Matthew 7:13-14)

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