Do you believe in Predestination? Do you think that God has already planned your entire life and that no matter what you do, it is already set out? Is it true that you are either saved or condemned to hell before you are even able to determine right from wrong?
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And while we’re asking questions, do you believe that God is in charge? Is God really running the show, making the decisions every moment of every day, and ensuring that all he wants anyone do to is being done, just the way he wants it?
I don’t believe in predestination, and I’ll tell you why: God told Cain that sin is crouching at his door and he must master it (Genesis 4:7), so it is clear that when it comes to what we do, it is our decision. God didn’t say to Cain, “Sin is waiting for you and you can’t fight it- you’re chosen to be sinful and you have no way out of it. Sorry ’bout that, but that’s how it goes for some people. I spin the dice and you pay the price.”
Don’t worry- that’s not how it works.
God gave us all Free Will, the right to choose what we will do and say, and throughout the Tanakh God lets us know that whatever we decide to do, it is our choice. When we do what is right (in his eyes, not our eyes) we will be blessed, and when we choose to reject his instructions, we will be on our own. The world is a fallen and cursed place, under the dominion of the Evil One (remember that Satan was thrown to the Earth) and when we reject God, we lose the kippur, the covering, of God’s protection.
God doesn’t curse us when we disobey, he just leaves us unprotected from the world.
So, nu? If God gives me the right to choose what I do, then is he really in charge?
Yes, and no.
Yes, God’s plans will be fulfilled, and the way he wants them to be fulfilled, yet while we are waiting for that day, we have the ability to do what we want to do.
I once heard that God is the captain of a ship that is going from here to there, and along the way, the ship stops at many different ports. We are able to get on the ship or off the ship every time it stops. In fact, we can even “jump ship” between ports. Eventually, the ship will land at its final destination, and obviously, you want to be on the ship when it gets there.
I was in a position of management for most of my career, and when you are in charge you learn that you need to allow those under your authority to learn, and the way to do that is to give them the freedom to be in charge of themselves. The really good Boss is the one who can let people make their mistakes, and still correct those mistakes before the mission is compromised.
Being in charge often means ceding authority to others so that they can become leaders in their own right. Micromanaging never works out well for anyone, and God is the absolute best manager of all, for he knows everything you will do before you know it yourself, but he is willing to allow you the freedom to do it, even when it may result in pain. He can always soothe the injury and heal us, but if we are never allowed to burn ourselves, we will never learn to be careful around fire.
God is in charge, but you are still the only one who is responsible for what you do and say. If something bad happens, don’t blame God, and don’t say that you are under attack. Of course, you may be under attack (from the Enemy) at times in your life, especially if you are doing what is good and helping to advance God’s kingdom, but for the most part (if you ask me), when bad things happen to good people, it’s just that the good people may have slipped a bit, or as the saying goes, “Stuff Happens.”
We live in a fallen and cursed world; every now and then bad things will happen. You can’t walk through a field of sheep and not end up stepping in something, now and then. And according to the Bible, it will only get worse, so remember that you are the only one who you can blame for what happens to you.
The answer to today’s question is that God can be in charge of everything whenever he wants to be, but when it comes down to your life he will take charge only after you ask him to do that.
In the end, the one who is really in charge of you is YOU!
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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!