Exercising Free Will
1. free and independent choice; voluntary decision.
2. Philosophy . the doctrine that the conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces.
It seems appropriate to talk about free will on Independence Day. Here’s my context. Recently I took on the task of replacing the battery on the Kawasaki Mule that we use at the lakehouse.
Those who know me are thinking, “Yeah, right, either Sandi did it or you took it to the repair shop.” Truth be known, my plan was to take it to the shop. I can trailer it, but first, have to fix a flat on the trailer. Fortunately my 1997 Ford Pickup still had the owner’s manual in the glovebox; so I found the jack. But the lug wrench wouldn’t fit. So off to the store; picked up a “star” lug wrench and was in business. Got the flat tire off, took it to the gas station, got it fixed, and returned and put it back on the trailer.
Feeling pretty cocky now, I started looking at the Mule, wondering how to remove the battery; it was the under the seat and difficult to get to. I’ll jump to the end to the battery story; I did remove it, took it to the shop and got a replacement, put the new one on, and the Mule started right up! But that wasn’t the point of my post . . .
Readers who knew my Dad know that he could fix anything that took two hands and a tool. He used to say he couldn’t fix TVs, but I didn’t believe him. All my life, wherever I happened to be living at the time, I always called Dad when something needed repair. I remember he giving Sandi instructions on how to fix the clothes dryer over the phone.
The Mule repair story took my thoughts back to when I was 16 years old. My Dad was doing a tune-up on my car and I was, uh, helping. This turned out to be the last of a hundred times Dad would attempt to pass along his God-given skills to mel. And it was the last of a hundred times that I was bored to death and wishing I was anywhere else but under the hood of my car. After a few times of me handing him the wrong tool, Dad turned to me and said, “You are not paying attention. You would rather be playing basketball right now, wouldn’t you?” I said, “Yes sir, I would.” He said, “Go ahead, I’ll finish up the tune up.” And I headed to the court.
Dad let me exercise my own free will. God works in the same way; He allows us free will to choose to believe in Him, lean on Him, listen to Him, and obey Him. In “What Christians Believe”, C.S. Lewis explains that God did not want robots who were forced to obey; machines that were on auto-control and unable to make a choice. That He didn’t want us to act out of a sense of obligation to Him. He wanted us to do so because we loved Him. As Jason Gray sings, “It’s more like falling in love, than something to believe in.”
When I was 16, I exercised my free will and made a choice that I knew wasn’t what my Dad wanted. But he never showed any sign of disappointment and loved me with all he had for the rest of his life. And he was always there for me. Throughout my steps of the Mule repair – at each step – I felt the guidance of my Heavenly Father. I have exercised my free will and made the choice my Heavenly Father wanted. And I pray I continue to do so.
“Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having … The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight …” C.S. Lewis