Free will sounds like a good idea until we get blocked by someone else’s free will. I was in that situation for about 20 years. There was something I wanted to do the choices someone else made meant that I could not do it and that was definitely frustrating.
The story starts when I was looking around for ways to improve my own life. I started going to seminars with titles like “Is there healing in the church today?” They were run by a group from an Anglican church. Sometimes they were held in a school at other times they were in a community centre and occasionally they were held in a church of a different denomination.
It was at the seminar at a Methodist church that I was given some clues about what I would be doing in the future. Someone came over to me to pray with me during the ministry time. They prayed through a rather delicate issue with me. Looking back that time of prayer ministry was quite a blessing as the consequences of that prayer made what was going to be a difficult situation easier to manage.
After that prayer they turned round to me and said that they thought that God had a great work for me to. My response was what do you think it could be. Understandably they did not have a clue so they told me to go home and ask God for some clues. I did get two clues was one a magazine that came in my direction via a very strange route with an article about a father and daughter team of ministers in the non-conformist denomination that included my church. The other one was rather odd. I was standing in my kitchen and I had a vision where I was reading a book. I found that book in a library 160 miles away some 6 months later. According to the book I was already doing one of the qualifications needed to become a minister.
The road block
The conclusion I came to was that I was called to become a minister. There was one problem. I am a woman and I had been taught that a woman always has to work in partnership with a man. The only women I knew who were ministers also had a husband who was a minister. They existed but there was always a man around to act as a covering for them. A woman could be a minister but never on her own she had to be be part of a team of ministers that included a man. Or at least that was what everyone around me was saying.
That does not sound much of a problem until you consider my husband’s attitude towards the church. He just was not interested in church. The first step on my journey would have to be getting him involved in church life. That was easier said than done. He was far more comfortable going to the pub and wobbling home than going to church,
It got worse as we then moved house and one of the consequences of the move was a deterioration in his mental health. The best way of describing the experience of spending time on the land that our home was built on is that while you were on it the voice of God’s enemy was amplified. What might in other places have been a whisper became a deafening shout. He was not the only one who succumbed to the effect of this voice I did as well. It was so bad that there were times when life was really hard that the only way I could cope was to find ways of staying out of the house. The local college became my refuge as I did course after course and then found excuses to stay in the college every hour that it was open.
Understandably this wrong thinking added huge complications to our lives. Step by step we sank deeper and deeper into something like quicksand. There was me wanting to move forwards and the way was blocked by a huge obstacle. I was being swallowed up by the issues that were generated by spending time on that land. I sank further and further until I quite simply could not see a way out. I was in over my head and needed a tube to be able to breathe and I was not sure how longer I could survive.
The road block becomes insurmountable
One of the questions that those who knew me well have asked me is why didn’t you try and escape by seeking a divorce. One of the answers to that question is that I had heard many discussions on divorce when I was a young Christian. Divorce was hot topic on TV for a while because the divorce laws were being changed. Not everyone thought that this was a good idea. Another answer was that I thought that if took that way out then I would not be able to go forwards because I would have the terrible stain of divorce on my record. I thought taking the only way out would create a blockage of a different kind so I might as well stay where I was and hope and pray that it would change.
If I could not do something as simple as have a good home life then I definitely would not be able to help other people after all how can you be an example to others when all you have experienced is failure. I thought I had to stay there and learn how to make the change I wanted to see actually happen but the only changes that happened were for the worse. The good life I wanted seemed to be an impossible dream.
The problem that God had was that both of us used our free will in such a way that we were stuck in an increasingly destructive marriage. I chose to spend a large part of my weekend in church while he chose to spend a large part of the weekend in the pub. Each of us wanted the other to join them in our chosen lifestyle. We both tried hard to get the other to join us and we both failed. Neither of us wanted the preferred lifestyle of the other.
Breaking down the road block
In the end the only way out was with I call my catalytic scream. I was so frustrated that I screamed at God. This was totally out of character for me and the only time I have ever done anything like it, before or since. I had finally realised that unless something happened I would never escape. I told Him that I was stuck and that I wanted to be unstuck so that I could serve Him better. It was as if I made it very plain that I wanted things to change and it did not matter how it changed.
The strange thing is after that scream I did not have to do anything as the divorce process started and just progressed without any input from me. It was not what I wanted but God took me at my word that I really wanted my life to change so that I could serve Him better. In fact looking back it was the only way that He could move me into such a place. God dropped a heavy hint to me after the divorce that it was my husband had not just burned his bridges with me but he had even burnt his bridges with God. If there really was no chance for him to change at that point then the only answer was to get me out of there.
Freewill is challenging
I learnt a lot about free will during the process. I could not move because of my free will. Prince Charming used his free will to decided not to go the way I wanted him to go. Two people both used their free will to keep them in an impossible situation for 20 years.
The deadlock was broken when we used our free wills to do something differently. I stopped getting in God’s way and let Him help me escape in the way He wanted to help me escape. Prince Charming finally made the decision to give me the order of the boot. Totally opposite to what the bible teaches is the best for people.
Another way of thinking about it is that God encouraged Prince Charming make the choice to wave goodbye to me. I had always read the scripture about people not pulling a marriage apart as a reason to fight against divorce. I now see it in a slightly different way and recognise that some situations are just so bad that God actually pulls apart marriages because that is the lesser of two evils for one of his children.
I knew the old proverb about being able to take a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. I learnt the reality of it the hard way. No wonder we have a world that is not God’s best for us. You see when all of us use our free will to do what God does not want us to do it creates problems. If we use our free will to abuse someone or to hurt someone or to damage the environment then there is nothing that even God can do to change the situation.
It is our choice but the problem is that other people take the consequences and a great deal of damage is done by people using their free will. Yet what is the alternative without free will we become little more than robots unable to make decisions on our own behalf. Even the most profoundly disabled people can make some choices for themselves and are obviously unhappy when they can’t.
This is not the end of the journey there is more.