“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14 NIV
“All preordained, a prisoner in chains, a victim of venomous fate
Kicked in the face, you can pray for a place, in heaven’s unearthly estate
You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear, I will choose Freewill”
From “Freewill” by Rush
I was in high school, and I was at the loudest concert I have ever been to. The opening act was Candlebox, a totally underrated band that is far more prolific than you would guess. The opening act was Rush, and I think my ears are still ringing from that night. I was having the time of my life, and the farthest thing from my mind was what brought me to that place. Was it fate? Destiny? Providence? None of the above, it was just my best friend Mitch.
One of my favorite Rush songs is “Freewill”, which is why I quoted it above. It was written by Neil Peart in the late ‘70s and is described by many as a song about atheism. Peart seems to be pushing back on the idea that a deity has “preordained” our lives and that we might as well be a “prisoner in chains” if we submit to a higher power. No, he says, “I will choose a path that’s clear, I will choose Freewill.” If I can read Peart’s mind for a second, he seems to believe that having free will is the opposite of living under a divine power.
In my opinion, the truth couldn’t be more different. Free will is the greatest gift that we ever received from our creator, and was given with a very specific purpose in mind. To deepen the love that we feel for him and, thereby deepen the way we feel about the love that he gives to us.
The fact is, love (heck, anything) is undeniably deeper, stronger, and more meaningful when it is given of free will. When a person is given a choice on where to place their affections and how to express those feelings, they are felt more fully and completely by the recipient. When we are told to love or respect someone, while it might feel nice at the beginning, in the end it is hollow and lacks meaning.
So that is why so much of the Bible exhorts us to welcome God into our lives. His love for us can never grow stronger because it is already infinite, but when we choose to have him in our lives, and open our hearts to him, we can feel his love more profoundly.
God may order our lives; I am still working through predestination and my comfort level with that doctrine. But I do not believe that He orders our hearts. He has left those to us to oversee, and it is up to us to decide where our affections lie.
Instead of doing for us and not giving us the choice, He instead chose to perform for us the ultimate demonstration of true love, and then let us decide how to replicate that in our own lives.