Saturday, August 23, 2003

Free Will

Say mane..what do you think about free will?
Free Will?! They done put Willie Jankins back in jail AGAIN??!!
No..not Will Jenkins, ‘free will’. that that movie with that white boy and the whale?
No, I’m talking about free know, how much man controls his own life versus how much is predetermined by fate.
Oh..I ain’t got time to be getting in all that ‘deep’ stuff.
Well, you don’t have to listen..its your free will to leave if you so choose.
This ain’t like one of them thangs that try to brainwash you like they did Rerun in the ‘Boom-shaka-laka’ episode of What’s Happening, is it?
(laughing) Naw man..its nothing like that…

The controversy of fate versus free will has been debated since the beginning of philosophy and organized religion. How much of our destiny is determined by the choices we make, versus what is already decided by fate before we’re even born? It’s a question that will make each person examine his or her beliefs and understanding of the omnipotent (all-powerful) God. It’s also a question that will mandate introspection into the actual choices that we have to make in life, as compared to occurrences that are going to happen no matter what we do. I believe that God’s will cannot be stopped, but I also believe that God has granted each of us the power to choose our own path in life. From the original temptation of Eve in the garden of Eden, to the sins being committed at this very second, God already knows what we all have done, are doing and are going to do in the future. So for that, I believe that the term ‘free will’ is an oxymoron that is better described as ‘free choice’. Divine fate refers to the omniscience (all-knowing) of God, His knowledge of eternity past and eternity future. I guess it just freaks some people out to hear that God already knows what they’re going to do before they even do it.

A great example of God’s will interacting with man’s choice is the Biblical story of Jonah. God called Jonah (an Israeli prophet) to go to Nineveh, a great city located along the Tigris River in what is now modern day Iraq, and preach the word of God to this city of Gentiles (non-Jews). Instead of hastening to do what God specifically told him to do, Jonah took a boat ride heading in the opposite direction from where God told him to go. While on the boat, Jonah fell fast asleep, and a great storm came up that caused such a tempest, that the lives of all the people on the boat were threatened. Everybody’s praying to their various gods and throwing cargo overboard to lighten the load; in hopes of appeasing whatever god that was punishing them. When they saw Jonah asleep, they went and woke him up and told him he needs to start praying to whatever God it is that he serves. Jonah already knew that the storm was a result of God’s displeasure with him in obeying his command. So he had the men throw him into the raging sea so that God would bring calm to the waters. God already knew the choice Jonah was going to make at this point, and he prepared a great fish that swallowed Jonah up and held him in his belly for 3 days and 3 nights before depositing him back to shore. Jonah’s time in the belly of the fish gave him a change of heart and once safely back on shore, he went ahead and did what God told him to do in the first place. Jonah made his initial choice of disobedience, but God’s will reigns supreme in the end, as it always will.

I always imagine that popular scene of having an important choice to make and an angel is speaking to us in one ear and a devil speaking to us in the other. Too often the devil’s suggestions tugs at the desires of the flesh and immediate gratification, while the angel’s advice is ‘square’ and less appealing. Sometimes what we think is an angel talking on the other side is actually another devil in disguise. There’s been many tragic incidents of people getting confused by the ‘voices’ they hear in their heads, such as the case of the Clear Lake mom who murdered all 5 of her children ‘because God told her to release them from this sinful world.’ It’s a lot of people that get confused by the power they have available to wield and that which was destined to be by Divine fate. The reality is that God’s will sometimes allows bad things to happen to good people as well as good things to happen to bad people. In all actuality, we must all stay prayerful and mindful of God’s Word and will when we make our choices in life. Because no matter what appearances may seem, God will NEVER come at you with wrongness and evil.

Unfortunately, the choices that we have to make on a daily basis are rarely as clearly defined as Jonah’s. What outfit to wear today? What should I eat for breakfast? What route should I take to work? What class should I take this semester? Is this the person I should marry? Should I buy a bigger house? These are the types of choices that most of us have to deal with everyday. It’s very convenient and ‘non-controversial’ to focus on these physical decisions and not address the spiritual decisions. Some people are completely ignorant and unprepared to deal with their spiritual being. They walk through life with blinded eyes never attempting to acknowledge or grow closer to the Divine. Some have been turned off by one of the many false prophets and hypocritical religious leaders that are so prevalent today. Others just want to have as much fun as they can now and worry about that ‘spiritual’ stuff when they get older and closer to death. Even if you don’t read or believe in the Bible, you can see the thousands of deaths that happen each day from homicides, traffic accidents, illness and disease of both young and old and realize, tomorrow is promised to no man. God’s will WILL be done, no matter what choices man makes. I just try to focus and make my choices based on what I know is right in the eyes of God, because like most others, I wouldn't want to be swallowed up by a big fish named Willie.

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