Yesterday I offered a reflection on the multi-layered world we live in. Somehow we humans are atoms, cells and free agents. One does not negate the other. In the midst of all this God is at work.
Does He control everything we do? I think not. The bible says that God does act. He hardens Pharaoh's heart for example. But I recently heard at bible study that the way He did it was by relenting in punishment. Each time Pharaoh "got away with it" his heart got harder. Just like real life! Escaping consequences produces the same behavior often times. We all know that having our choices catch up to us makes us more willing to change. Pharaoh did not have to be a puppet to have his heart hardened by God.
Jesus told a story about preaching. Some people hear the word but it never penetrates their lives, others are interested for awhile, but lose interest because they are shallow or too busy with life. But, Jesus proclaims, some people are open and produce great fruits. Mother Teresa and Billy Graham are two recent examples. So are countless other unknown Christians.
My offering today is that God is more active in those who offer themselves to Him. People who respond to the Message and His invitation to follow. God respects human choice. A person who tells God "please run my life" is going to be more likely to have God running their life. One danger of the "God controls everything" belief is it may allow people to minimize the importance of response to God. There are holy places in the Bible. There are holy people as well. Holy means given over or set aside for God's activity. Being holy means being His possession. Becoming a tool for God is, in part, our choice!