Yesterday I talked about a bigger understanding of free will, and I want to take it a bit further. I do think God has certain things He would like to happen, but my new understanding is that it’s not as scripted. (And keep in mind: I’m not talking about sin here; I’m talking about discerning between two moral goods.)
In my old view, God was like a parent sending his kid off to a university, and every semester God would pay the tuition and email the student a list of classes to take and work hard at, with the idea that at the end of four years the kid would graduate with a degree in history, concentrating in the late Victorian era, and a minor in French. If the kid was a saint, he’d graduate with honors.
In my new view, God hands you the course catalog and says, “Go for it!” and even though He knows you’ve got a really good skill set toward studying history (because He put it there) he lets you browse the whole catalog and sign up for courses in architecture instead. If you ask for help, He’ll sit down with you and go over all the options. And when you ask for a really cool graphing calculator for your birthday, maybe you’ll get that. In my old version, He’d have given you a history text book and waited for you to get the hint.
I’m not discounting that sometimes God calls us to do something specific. Maybe something big like entering the priesthood or moving to Nebraska; maybe something small like giving a higher tip to the waitress because God knows she’s struggling and you don’t. But that’s not the everyday.
I mentioned before how I used to think about God as God, INC because God had a plan and I was expendable. It’s about as intimate a relationship as you have with the federal government, and my guardian angel did away with that about four years ago. But God, INC made a repeat appearance a few weeks ago when I realized my blanket assumptions were that
a) God has a scripted plan for my life
b) God will not bless my well-intentioned efforts if I deviate from that plan, no matter how virtuous
c) God will not tell me what that plan is, so I need to guess really, really well
That’s where these two entries are coming from. That and how I’m rewriting the story of an angel whose name means “Free Will,” and he’s ended up painted into a corner.
Once I connected the three dots above, I was able to look at them squarely and see the theological mistakes, which is why pulling this garbage out into the light helps. A lot. And it’s been freeing to know that I can’t ruin God’s plan for the universe by an innocent mistake, by rewriting a novel about an angel named Free Will rather than writing a novel about radioactive mermaids who juggle cupcakes.
Because that plan is for good. God gave us free will so we could make choices and branch out into individuals, not lean on crutches and never go anywhere. Ultimately God would like us to choose to be with Him. And on the way there, He’s willing to let us explore.