Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Power of Choice

I happen to be the type of person who reflects a lot. (Despite what other's think, usually consisting of the opinion that I'm lost in the clouds or some other dimension). I think deeply, I ponder—led by curiosity or belief, or persistent reflection on some broad moral or uncertain circumstance.

One thing I have thought about very much lately, and believe that I have come closer to knowing the truth of, is the subject of Choice. Self will. Individual freedom to act, believe, think as we see fit, or strive in the pursuit of the knowledge of right and wrong.

Many people look around and see all the chaos and destruction all around us, caused from choices. We hear of terrible things happening that we can't fathom. Innocents dead. And we wonder that if there is a merciful God, why does He let these things happen?

Traditionally the answer is "I don't know". And to an extent, it is an answer I would give too—but only in that I don't know the purpose of some things. Because miracles do happen, and I know that God moves in mysterious ways. But perhaps the purpose of things gone bad isn't something we would expect—maybe it is a circumstantial consequence, an example of the effect of a choice, and no more? One that is there, simply because someone or a group made personal decisions?

But why must innocents die or be effected by them, you may ask. We all ask that, if we have any human care. But if we understand that the consequences of choice are very real, we will also see that the reality of its effect on others, even those so wholly unconnected (in our mind, perhaps) with our choices, is very real. It is the truth of life. Consequences often have unimaginable scope.
Every single one of us wields tremendous power—the power of our choices. Choices that effect every moment of the day, and days are made of those moments—years made of those days. We create this world. Every day, it is being shaped by us. So in answer to the time-old question of why God doesn't stop bad things from happening, we must go to the beginning. And in asking why God supposedly doesn't take action, we are admitting the possibility of His existence (which I am a firm believer in)—so I will refer to the story of Adam and Eve.

Those familiar with the story will remember that Adam and Eve acted out of free will when they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God could have stopped them. But Choice and the ability to think for oneself was God's gift. He obviously did not want a race of beings that were automatons. For what is the real worth of that? What else gives us such individuality but our freely made choices? Our own mind?

God would have acted against His gift to us if he stopped Adam and Eve. And if God always stopped bad things from happening, our "free will" would mean absolutely nothing. And we would learn nothing. To go through experience is to gain knowledge and wisdom, if we have the fortitude to see and value it.

So, raises the question, what if we did NOT have choice? Would we have a "perfect" world where nothing went wrong? A perfectly orderly one, perhaps—assuming we would be all be automatons running on the same system—but what would be the purpose? The value? Without choice and a mind of our own, we can not truly see worth in anything either.

This would lead to the realization of the preciousness of choice. And the understanding that we all must value that gift.

We are given enormous power. Choice is a responsibility, but without it we are nothing. And if, when we make a mess of things as we so often do, creating chaos and retribution by our myriad mistakes (ranging from all sorts of intentions, good or selfish) and we ask why God does not prevent these horrible things that happen, let us remember that it is to ask why did he did not go against his design, his gift to us.

Would we have that? Would we rather have a greater Being fix all of our mistakes for us, than to act with the courage and open eyes of one who clearly sees the effect their choices have, and strive to be better?

I hope we all would strive to reflect this truth the stories we tell, through all the many wonderful mediums that we choose.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please comment, and share your own opinions!


We are the movers and shakers in this world, every one of us. We all have the incredible, far-reaching power of choice.


  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDHxnd6VFWs

  2. You should probably check comments before they get posted, or you might get people posting things like rap songs. :P
    I suggest you listen to Lecrae, he's one of the very few who writes serious and deep lyrics.

    Very good post, by the way! Your parents should be proud!

  3. Meant to comment earlier, but life is crazy. A similar blog post is actually in the works at the moment.

    My dad is a Calvinist. My mom, and the rest of the county, believes in free will. I believe in paradox. I think God can be one and three at the same time; I believe that Jesus was 100% God and 100% Man; I believe that only in becoming a fool can one become wise. So on. There are some things beyond our comprehension, and I think the free will/election conundrum is one of them, because there are verses to support both. The Bible says He chose us, and we didn't choose ourselves. It also says it is not His will that any should perish. As I've grown, I've started to lean into Calvinism, because it makes more sense to me. Here's my favorite (though imperfect) analogy: God is an author, and we are in his story. He is writing the story, but would never cause a character to do something uncharacteristic, because he's good writer. Sometimes characters, though fictional, control the author, even though he always has the prerogative to say STOP. Make sense? I don't force my characters to do uncharacteristic things...unless it makes a better story. Calvinists believe in the sovereignty of God; Arminians believe that Man has been given a choice. I think both are True in a way beyond our understanding.