If I have free will, I can elect whom I love. If I do not have free will, I have no say. The matter is not important to me except as it impacts my relationship with God.
If I believe the Bible is true and trustworthy, then I understand that God made “man” because He was lonely. Loneliness is a terrible feeling – empty and dark. The only cure for loneliness is companionship. But if God wants companionship, I suspect He wants to be companions with someone who can choose to love Him back.
If I have free will, I can elect to love God, with all my heart and soul and body and mind. If I do not have free will, I cannot give Him anything – He must place whatever I feel within me. But if I have free will, the feelings I have are native to my being.
I submit that God doesn’t want a companion who cannot offer Him full and free love. He wants a companion who struggles and triumphs and follows Him. He wants a companion who loves Him. A companion without free will is an automaton, not a true companion.
I am not an automaton – I know because I have questions. If I were an automaton, controlled by God, then I would have no questions. I would do as told. But I am not an automaton. Each question, each decision requires careful thought and consideration of the consequences.
If I were an automaton, I would be helpless to question the God who created me. But I am not helpless. I question. My thoughts and heart question. I know that I am His child, yet I question Him when I am in my darkness.
There is no peace in being an automaton, because God can no more love an automaton than I can love a rock. He cares for and protects and guides the automaton, but He feels nothing for it because it is not a being.
I am convinced that God reserves Love for beings. I am also convinced that I am a being. I am convinced because I have experienced the Love of God. This is not something I could imagine. I will tell you the story of my knowing that God Loves me.
I was 17 when I married and began trying to become pregnant. At first I thought that my timing was off. Every month I would get my period and every month I would cry. I wanted a child, but I feared that God would never bless me with a child because I wasn’t “good enough” to be a mother.
Mind you, I had helped raise my siblings, had babysat for many children, and knew exactly how to care for a child. Still, when my period came every month, I knew that I wasn’t blessed. There is a stigma that attaches to infertility. A reputation of sorrow. It is well earned.
Many years passed without my becoming a mother. My friends had children. I was the one who couldn’t conceive. I was cast in the Christmas Pageant as the Virgin Mary, because I was without a child. I passed 20, 25, 30 years of age. No children. Not even a hope of conceiving.
When I was 34, a friend asked my husband and me to adopt a child. I was too afraid to say yes, afraid that disappointment and a broken heart would follow. But somehow, I found the courage to say yes. I didn’t know that I would live in fear of a change of heart on the birth parents’ part for the next six months.
I attended LaMaze Classes with the birth mother. I took her to lunch and bought her gifts. We became friends. I decorated a nursery. These were the days before an unborn child’s sex was known, so I chose rainbow colors.
I’ll never forget the day our son was born and came into our family. The birth parents invited us to be present for the birth. The call came while I was at work. The birth mother was in labor; the nurse instructed us to make our way to the birthing center.
We experienced the birth of our firstborn with a mixture of joy and fear. When he was born, the birth father cried, “It’s a boy!” My heart sank, because I recognized love and excitement in the birth father’s voice. I was sure he would change his mind about giving his child up for adoption.
Soon after, the birth mother asked us to leave the room. She and the baby’s birth father wanted to be alone with their child. The nurse escorted us to a private room and left without any explanation. What seemed like hours of waiting was in reality only 35 minutes, but we died a thousand deaths in that half-hour.
Finally, the nurse came for us and said that the birth parents wanted to see us. I expected them to tell us that they had changed their minds. I braced my heart for the despair I knew was waiting. The nurse opened the door to the birthing room. The birth father stepped forward with his son in his arms, and said, “Meet your son!”
My heart flooded with joy. He placed Tommy in my arms and I was in love. The nurse showed me how to swaddle him, and said, “You may take him home now.” She stunned me! He was barely an hour old! She laughed and handed me a clean diaper.
We placed him in his brand-new car seat and buckled the straps. I could not believe we were taking a newborn baby home! The drive seemed perilous, with every approaching car a threat. Of course, the trip was uneventful.
In less than ninety minutes after his birth, I was sitting in my new rocking chair, rocking my new son. I sat there marveling at his tiny features, his exquisite hands and fingers. And then, God overcame me with the knowledge that the only reason I was holding this tiny being was because He loved me.
I wept. And I rejoiced. And I have never forgotten the assurance I received from God that day – He indeed loved me. Loves me. Because His love has never diminished, but has grown and nurtured me. As a mother, as a woman, and as a being. He loves me with His whole heart and soul and mind. As I love Him.
I am convinced that the love of God is a free gift given to each of us, as He wants our love to be for Him. He longs for a relationship with each of us. We must choose to love Him. He is a perfect gentleman and never intrudes where He is not welcome.
When it is my time to die, I know that the love of God will encompass and surround me. I am encompassed and surrounded by God’s love now and know that He will never leave me nor forsake me. He has proven His love. His compassion. His mercy. And I love Him with my whole heart and mind and soul and body.