Sunday, June 23, 2013
After becoming a parent, I related this to my youngest child climbing the so-called-no-climb-fence. The design merely slowed her down until I could race out the backdoor and nab her before she got to the top, usually.
It didn't take Divine omniscience to know what would happen should I fail, and my knowledge of the outcome, did not alter her freedom to choose. Same with God and us, except on a much higher scale.
This thought leads me to the idea of praying for someone's conversion, or change in behavior. What happens to free will in that instance? Do we, or God, force the person to act against their will? Of course not. This is where the power of Divine persuasion comes into play.
Scripture is filled with instances where God persuaded one of His children to change their course of action and obey His will. As dramatic as St. Paul's conversion, he still had the option to say no. However, if I were in St. Paul's place, I believe I would find it difficult to say no. Even in my own little experiences God seems to take His persuasion tactics to higher levels with every stubborn refusal on my part, and I am too much of a coward to further test His patience.
That brings us back to omniscience. God knew St. Paul would be converted, just like He knew I would finally obey, and that Jonah would finally take his three day walk through Nineveh. (Although free choice in Jonah's instance seems stretched, doesn't it?)
I cannot speak for others, but after my experiences with the lions and other forms of Divine persuasion, I understand it is far better to shrug off my Jonah cloak, and listen intently to every spiritual nudge, regardless of how infinitesimal it seems to others. After years of practiced discernment, I now recognize His whisper for the roar it really is.
There is a counterpart to obeying His will, peace. If He asks, He will also provide the means. Done deal, except for the physical part. Jonah still had to walk across Nineveh. St. Paul didn't fly to Damascus on angel's wings, and I will have to fork out the physical and emotional effort required to fulfill His plan. Yet, there is peace in this as well. He will not only provide the means, He will also give me the strength.
How about you? Is God using Divine persuasion on you?