As Stephanie talked with her children about their choices, the oldest boy of her four, aged 10, looked at his mom with a puzzled expression and asked, “Mom, if it is my choice, how does God know what I’m going to decide?”
The next morning over coffee, Stephanie told me that her answer was, “I’ll ask Nannygranne in the morning.”
Her children are bright and well-behaved, always eager to learn and full of a sense of adventure. I love them. “Do you want the long discussion or a simple answer?” I wanted to know if she had questions, too. The subject isn’t simple. The debate is rigorous both in Religious circles and in the field of Philosophy. Who calls the shots? Who is responsible? To whom are we accountable?
“Oh, definitely the short answer,” she responded.
“The short answer is that God can see our entire lives all at the same time. For us, everything in our reality has a beginning and an end. It’s hard to imagine a world outside of time, but in God’s world, time does not exist. The fact is that God made time .”
“But then he’s going to ask, ‘But doesn’t God live here with us,'” she said.
“He also made matter so that He can move anywhere He wishes, too, ” I continued. “For example, if I make a cake, I’m not part of the cake, but I can touch the cake, or even eat it and it becomes part of me. But I’m not the cake. ” Stephanie nodded her head. I went on. “So God can watch us from beginning to end. He knows what we’re going to do, but chooses not to control that, but gives us room to decide. What is mind-boggling is that He intervenes for us, protects us, goes ahead of us, and helps us when we trust Him to guide and protect us. He also knows who wants to be left alone, but even those He provides for and touches, hoping to be invited into their lives.”
“I guess that’s why He’s God and we’re not,” Stephanie observed. “I’ll let the kids know. That makes perfect sense.”
We went our separate ways, each to tackle the day ahead, but as I drove away, I knew the time could come when those sparring religious and philosophical debates would muddy the waters of reason again. I hope they remember this answer.
Jesus grieved over Jerusalem’s choice against His will when He said in Matthew 23: 37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.”
God doesn’t choose a few to save; He leaves the choice to them and wants them to choose Him.
2 Peter 3: 9, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”
Books: Chosen but Free, by Norman Geisler; and The Only Wise God, by William Lane Craig
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(Editor’s note) A friend of mine uses this illustration regarding God’s foreknowledge and man’s free will. He says, “I watched (name of movie) with my granddaughter the other night. Throughout the movie she kept telling me what was going to happen next – because she has seen it many times. But even though she knows what is going to happen next doesn’t mean that she causes what happens next.”