The clumsy dance of the colours and patterns of life

Witness the clumsy dance of the colours and patterns of life, the sometimes-harmonic, sometimes-cacophonic combination of the silence and the noise all around, and the heroes and the helpless within.
Welcome to my little corner of The Mighty Interwebs, where it is not likely you will find anything profound (or even very interesting), but where you will find all manner of random. Life is a kaleidoscope of the weird and the wonderful, the awesome and the awful, the blessings and the bizarre, and the collision between them is what you just might stumble upon here if you stick around. Grab your favorite drink and come hang out with me if you dare.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Free Will or Destiny? Choice or Chance?

As Christians, we believe things happen for a reason. But do we see each of those things as something that happens to us, helpless pawns in a cosmic game, or do see them as the choices we make and the consequences of those choices? We are taught that God gives us free will, but we are also taught that God, our Omniscient Father, knows every detail of our lives, past, present, future. If God knows our actions before we commit them, are we really free to choose? Are we making choices and decisions, or are we forced into a course of action because things are “just meant to be,” predetermined by God’s knowledge and foreknowledge of our lives? How do we reconcile these notions?

God gives us free will, and though He wants us to choose the things that will bring us ultimate and eternal happiness, we aren’t forced into doing so. God, in His omnipotence, could keep us from making choices that are harmful to ourselves or those around us. Doing so, however, would make us slaves, and that is contrary to the teaching that Christ has come to set us free. Instead of forcing us into doing something, God gives us the resources we need to make good choices and to be set free.

Happiness, virtue, health, relationships, life: It seems to me that each is a choice, though some in ways less evident than others. It is fairly simple to see how one chooses to exercise virtue in his or her life, whether it is choosing not to have a second slice of cake out of self-control or choosing to do acts of service out of charity. Identifying things like health or happiness as choices, however, may not always be as obvious. Perhaps we are inclined to consider those as things dictated by our station in life, our responsibilities or job, our genetic makeup, or some other outside source. Even if we consider things beyond our control, we still have the ability to choose how we let them affect us.

There are countless manifestations of choice in our lives, whether they are those things for which we have directly and consciously opted or are the reflections of those choices. Over the course of a day, each of us makes numerous choices, and each of our choices shapes and defines us. Beginning with the alarm going off in the morning, we are faced with choices we must make. Some may be small choices – do I get out of bed and take on the new day, or do I hit snooze and sleep for seven more minutes? Other choices are more weighty – do I go to work and do my duty so that I may be paid and fulfill my financial responsibilities, or do I not show up and go golfing instead? A clear case of cause and effect, choices carry consequences with them. It is often these consequences which prevent us from seeing choices as something we are free to make. If we feel
forced to make a choice out of fear or coercion, how are we really choosing it?

While fear of one kind or another may influence our choices, the choices nonetheless remain ours to make. We are given both the freedom and the ability to consider an action and its related consequences. In doing so, we are exercising reason and free will. Even if our evaluations are only partial, our choices are directed by them. This exercise of both reason and free will should challenge us daily, as these are two of the qualities of man that set us apart as God’s highest creation.

If we never realize our potential, the choices we make will reflect that. We may more readily settle into the mold of what is familiar or what society expects of us, even if it is uncomfortable. On the other hand, if we choose to challenge ourselves and consider the results of our actions, we may find it more manageable to make choices in our lives which will help or allow us to live fully as God intends.

Right choices are not necessarily easy choices to make, but we can rest in the assurance that God’s help is available to us if we but ask Him. I challenge you to look at the choices in your life, celebrate them, and find happiness in them. “I have set before you life and death, blessings and the curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.” (Deuteronomy 30.19)

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