“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah….saying; ‘Arise, go to Nineveh’….But Jonah arose and fled to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord”  Jonah 1:1,2,3

“…I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people….out of Egypt.  But Moses said to God: ‘ Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt”‘.  Exodus 3:10,11

“Do not be afraid Mary….and behold you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son and shall call His Name Jesus. Then Mary said: ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word'”.  Luke 1:30, 38

Dear Sisters and Brothers; Our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and so many other authors’ within the Word of God make it abundantly clear; God’s way is not our way.  And understand this, it is not just that God’s way is different; but that God’s way, being perfect, is far beyond our ability to truly comprehend and appreciate.  As such there is much that is inscrutable in attempting to understand God.  I start with these statements because this post is not some definitive exposition on the concept of free will.  For there is much to be contemplated concerning the concepts of predestination, supremacy of God’s plan, the Creator’s control over His creation and how He employs that control which seem all to fit into the overarching concept of freewill.

Even given that enigmatic aspect of freewill, I do believe God’s Holy Word gives us some truths that we can use to further our faith and improve our lives.  To illustrate those truths, a few well known person’s and their stories come to mind.

Let’s start with Jonah.  Besides the book of the bible that bears his name, Jonah is referenced in the Second Book of Kings where he is named as a prophet.  As a prophet, he is a man of God, required to spread the word of God to the people.  As the Book of Jonah starts, he is given a command by God to go to the city of Nineveh and “cry out against it for their wickedness has come up before me”.  Here’s where it gets interesting.  As a prophet of God, we might think that Jonah would wholeheartedly accept God’s call and strike out for Nineveh.  Jonah indeed does strike out; but not to Nineveh but to Tarshish which is completely on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea!  Yet God is not to be denied and Jonah ends up being carried in a rather uncomfortable means to Nineveh.  Jonah even prays a very anguished prayer of humility to God.  So where does free will come into play?  Throughout the entire story, at every turn; Jonah contends with God.  When the people of Nineveh repent and God is merciful to them, Jonah get’s mad.  When God tries to teach Jonah about the power of mercy when He causes a plant to grow to shelter Jonah and then causes it to die; Jonah gets angry and wants to die.  We don’t get the sense at any point in the Book of Jonah that Jonah uses his free will to accept God’s plan for him or the Ninevehites.

Moving on to Moses, we see a man who also initially flees from his people.  Moses seems to have found his place as a shepherd and family man in the land of Midian.  Yet the people of God in Egypt were in bondage and crying out to God for a deliverer; and God had a person in mind; Moses.  Now initially, Moses, like Jonah before him, tried to dissuade God from using Moses to carry out His plan.  However, Moses, relented and decided to follow God and return to Egypt.  Yes, Moses often found himself contending with the people and even when Moses rashly acted outside the direction and scope of God, He always accepted the Will of God.  So from a free will standpoint, Moses came to a point of acceptance and humility toward God and His plan becoming one of the most powerful and beloved persons in the bible.

Then we come to Mary.  Mary was a humble, believing young girl who has a miraculous encounter with the angel Gabriel.  As any of us might be in the presence of the Angel of the Lord, Mary was initially fearful at even being in the presence of an angel.  She is a virgin so when the angel mentions that she will have a child, she does not dispute with the angel or try to dissuade him from choosing her, but is curious about how it might be that she will bear the Child.  Seemingly, she might have pleaded for someone else to be granted this miracle; maybe someone of noble birth or someone who was a wife of a religious authority or other great man.  Instead her free will was to respond:  “Let it be to me according to your word”.  Thus she became blessed among all women.

You see Dear Sisters and Brothers, each of these stories have as their basis; a plan, Our Heavenly Father’s plan.  In each of these plans, deliverance, mercy and salvation were at stake.  Additionally, Our Heavenly Father, in His amazing grace and mercy saw fit to include His creation in bringing about His wonderful plan.  Frankly, I don’t know if Jonah, Moses or Mary had the “free will” to respond with a no.  It doesn’t seem so to me that they could thwart the Will of God.  In my mind, our take away should be that God also has a plan specific to you and I.  It may or not may involve saving a nation, but it is perfect and important for each of us.  Will we be more like Mary or Jesus Christ, for that matter, and say with humility and sincerity: Thy will be done? Or we will attempt to run from Our Heavenly Father and His plan for us?  Will we attempt to impose our will over His?  Should we find the carrying out of His plan inevitable in our lives; will we be downcast, depressed, reluctant trying to disengage at every turn?

I believe a significant aspect of our free will is in our humble, grateful, acceptance of His plan.  We can freely use our time in prayer to Him and study of His Word.  We can freely rely on Him forsaking the ways of self or worldly reliance. And as we freely move to align our will with His; we will encounter the freely given Love, Blessings and Salvation God has planned for us.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, thank You that You have seen fit to include us, Your creation, in carrying out Your plans.  Forgive us when we try to circumvent Your Will by substituting our will in its place.  Pour out Your Spirit upon us that we would lovingly accept Your Plan for our lives and fully live into it.  That in our reliance upon You and our proclamation of the supremacy of Your Will in our lives, we would be beacons of Your Light and Your Love to this world and bring praise to Your Most Holy Name.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

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