We recently had a guest philosophy professor speak to our senior social work cohort. He initiated his lecture by briefly introducing us to several philosophical terms and concepts. No sooner had he gotten through those first few slides did he begin to ask deep and challenging questions. Questions like, “Do people always have a choice?” and “Do we really have free will?” were set before us. Though the answers to these questions were left unanswered, “open to interpretation,” the information given to us undoubtedly catered to the concept that free will is non-existent due to the fact that there is a plethora of contributing factors that determine our each and every move—basically, we don’t have a say in anything we do because the laws and forces of nature have destined us to do whatever we are about to do…yada yada yada.
As I sat in my chair, I began to find myself wrestling frustration, less than pleased that I had to sit through an entire class period listening to a bunch of, what was in my opinion, nonsense. My frustration was quickly exchanged for gratefulness though when I realized that my frustration was rooted in the knowledge that I knew the answer to both of those questions and he probably didn’t. What a joy and hope I have been given because I know the Truth of the story, of my story, and how the story ends—my mind doesn’t have to live in a constant state of wandering, tangled by loose-ends. Simply, I know the answers to these questions because of a choice that was made for me on a cross thousands of years ago.
The truth of the story says that God loved the world—not just some of the world or most of the world—but the world as a whole. Romans 5:8 says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He didn’t die for us while we were already free or had it all together. If that were so, what reason then would a sacrifice be needed? He chose us because He chose to choose us and it was by His choice that we have a choice—that I have a choice.
A few weeks ago began the start of a new semester, my last fall semester of college ever, and when my friends and I started to reflect on the three years that were behind us, I realized that all of my fondest memories were hidden in the days and moments of my sophomore and junior years. I found it almost impossible to conjure up any good from my freshman year, a time in my life where I was bound by the chains of a deep and dark depression, much deeper than I let anybody in my life catch on to. I believed a lie that told me I had to keep my pain hidden, my secret battles far from the ears of those who loved me most, my sobs just quiet enough for my roommates not to hear. But then something changed.
I can’t tell you an hour or a day when things began to change, but they did. I was so exhausted and tired of living in the darkness, consumed by shame, guilt, and regret—I craved more. The summer that followed that year would prove to any philosopher, that yes, we always have a choice and we have that choice because God has given us that choice. He made a choice to reach for us when He died on the cross and He has never stopped reaching. It is us that become blind to his gracious and open arms, the choice that is always in front of us, the choice that meets us right where we are and gives us the strength to move forward.
I made a choice that summer to be obedient, a choice that would bring me, somebody who was already a believer, into a sweet freedom that I had never experienced before. It was a choice that would shape the days and years that followed, a choice that still showers grace, love, and light into all of my days. The choice to live in His freedom doesn’t come without roadblocks or struggles along the way, but it does give me permission to move forward unashamed— permission to run wild and free as the woman He created me to be.
We have a choice to be obedient. We have a choice to choose freedom. We have a choice to throw aside our chains and run unhindered into the days He has set before us. We have a choice to take captive the lies the enemy will throw our way. We have a choice to go before His throne, as we are and where we are.
Those philosophical questions that were addressed, they don’t leave any room for a loving and gracious God to reach down for us, they insult the beauty and mystery of the gospel.
Of course we have a choice…
We have a choice because He’s always chosen us.