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How Do We Have Free Will if God Knows Everything?

Updated: Dec 27, 2020

A lot has been happening in my life over the past two weeks. A crazy amount, actually. First off, I got hired as a house parent at a boarding school near where I live. Secondly, I went on a youth group retreat last week as a counselor. Needless to say, all of a sudden, I am surrounded by middle-schoolers and teenagers.

Last night, I decided to help my husband at youth group. He is one of the youth leaders at my church, and since I had nothing else to do, I chose to go with him. As we were sitting in a circle and studying the book of Mark, one of the kids asked a very interesting question. He said, "I don't understand the concept of free will. Like, how do we have free will if God knows everything?"

Many leaders interjected and discussed different concepts, but for me, the question got me thinking. As I was pondering it over this morning with my coffee, I had a revelation.

My dog is a Jack Russell Terrier. He absolutely loves going places with me. He loves it so much, that if he even suspects that I might be leaving, he jumps all over the garage door and tries to get out of the house and into the car as quickly as he can. But once he's in the car and we are out of the driveway, he has a massive panic attack. He whines, barks, jumps all over the driver, hops into the trunk or back seat, tears something up, or knocks my drink over while basically doing parkour (or "barkour" if you enjoy a good pun) in the car. There are many times I've had to pull over to restrain him to make sure we don't get into a car wreck! Recently, my mom purchased a doggy seat belt because he is such a terror in the car. The fact is, my dog doesn't know where he is going, and therefore, doesn't trust me enough to make sure I get him safely to the destination... wherever that may be.

He's cute, right?

What does this have to do with free will? Well, I realized that people are sometimes like Jack Russell Terriers, God is like the driver, and our life is like the car. We really want to get to the destination, and we certainly don't want to be left behind, but as God is driving the car and we are riding along, we get panic attacks. We question every turn, every brake, every bumpy side road that looks different. We whine, have temper tantrums, and have no faith that God knows how to drive. What we don't realize is, if we surrendered control to the Driver and stopped freaking out, we would have a much smoother trip!

So, in answer to the question above, yes, God is ultimately in control. He knows everything, including the destination of our lives. He wants to drive us there. However, because God is very merciful, He allows us to have free will to do what we want in the car. This includes panicking, wanting to take control, and sinning. Some of us Jack Russell Terriers may even want to drive the car ourselves! And then, God gives us the control of the steering wheel and takes a back seat, waiting for us to realize that we don't know how to drive at all. Eventually, we crash and give the wheel back to God.

I found myself being a Jack Russell Terrier this past week with my new job transition. I knew the job was from God, because it fell directly into my lap. It also checked every single one of my boxes. But then doubt crept in and I started having anxiety.

Then a verse popped into my head, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future." -Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) I realized that I wasn't having faith that God would take care of me, even though I knew that He had a hand in my new job all along! I was being a Jack Russell Terrier. That is when I took a deep breath, and gave a prayer to God and asked for peace.

Next time you find yourself being a Jack Russell Terrier, (as adorable as they are!) I challenge you to let God's peace surround you. Feel it wash over you, as you remember that He is the best Driver. After all, He knows exactly where He is taking you. There may be bumps in the road, strange detours, and back roads, but if you surrender control to the Driver, He will bring you safely to the destination.

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