Tag Archive: Awe


…By Mandii 

On the path to my spiritual awakening, when I still had my doubts about the existence of God as I know him today, I was often perplexed by the notion that God knows all. I followed the logic that if He did know all, then He knew what we were going to choose in the future, meaning we really had no real free will. 

An omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient God...

I put these thoughts aside for awhile and established a relationship with God. Upon returning to my previous musings, I realised that this divine foreknowledge of our choices was not a problem for me. Keeping the concept of an all knowing God in mind when looking at the Christian definition of free will: the ability to make equal choices between options, regardless of a person’s sinful nature- how does God’s omniscience conflict with our free will? 

Let me use a simple analogy to elaborate on my point. The sun will rise and set tomorrow. I’m not causing it or preventing it from doing so by knowing that it shall happen. Similarly, if I ask my little sister to choose between a chocolate and a carrot, I know she will choose the chocolate. My knowledge of this does not restrict her from making her choice. Even if she was inclined to choose the carrot to please me, as it’s healthier, I have not forced her to make that choice. My sister is free to make the choice and my knowledge of her preference and in turn, her choice, has no effect upon her when she makes her choice. 

The red pill or the blue pill?

In short: God knowing what we are going to do does not mean that we can’t do something else. It means that God simply knows what we have chosen to do ahead of time. Our freedom is not restricted by God’s foreknowledge; our freedom is simply realized ahead of time by God. 

While God is omnipotent and knows the choices that individuals will make, He still gives individuals the power to ultimately choose (or reject) everything, regardless of any internal or external conditions relating to the choice. In a biblical illustration of free will, when Jesus was nailed on the cross, the two criminals, one on each side, were about to die. Only one asked Jesus for forgiveness while the other, even at the end of his life with nothing else to lose, disparaged Jesus. From a Christian perspective, this was a free and personal choice between everlasting death and everlasting life. 

An important issue to consider here is the concept of time. God’s concept of time differs greatly from ours. If the future exists for God even as the present does, then God is consistently in all places at all times and is not restricted by time. This would mean that God is not subject to our perception of the natural laws of time, subject, and that God is not a linear entity- to be precise, it would mean that God is not restricted to operating in our time realm and is not restricted to the present only. 

If the future exists for God even as the present does, then God is consistently in all places at all times and is not restricted by time.

Following this logic, if God is not restricted to existence in our version of the present, then the future is known by God because God dwells in the future, as well as the present (and the past). This would mean that our future choices, as free as they are, are simply known by God. Again, our ability to choose is not altered or lessened by God existing in the future and knowing what we freely choose. It just means that God can see what we will freely choose, because that is what we freely choose – and knows what it is. 

This concept is demonstrated in the scriptures, as spiritually God inhabits eternity. Psalm 90.2 says “Before the mountains were born, or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.” These verses and others do not actually say that God exists inside or outside time, rather that He is eternal. A number of verses also state that God has no beginning or end. This is not definitive, but we may be able to conclude that since time is that non-spatial, continuous succession of events from the past, through the present, and into the future, and that since the word “beginning” denotes a relationship to and in time, and since God has no beginning, that time is not applicable to God’s nature. In other words, God has no beginning and since “beginning” deals with an event in time, God is outside of time. 

So, in relation to our free will and God’s predictive ability, there is no biblical reason to assert that God’s foreknowledge negates our freedom. There is no logical reason to claim that if God knows what choices we are going to make that it means we are not free. It still means that the free choices we will make are free — they are just known ahead of time by God. If we choose something different, then that choice will have been eternally known by God. What’s more, this knowledge by God does not alter our nature in that it does not change what we are — free to make choices. 

In light of this, He has eternally known what all our free choices will be, He has ordained history to come to the conclusion that He wishes including and incorporating our choices into His divine plan: 

For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur,” (Acts 4:27-28). Why?  Because God always knows all things: “…God is greater than our heart, and knows all things,” (1 John 3:20).

Advertisements

…By Neemo

I wanted to share this beautiful traditional prayer to Ngai, The Kikuyu God of the Mountain. It has been translated to English from Kikuyu. The first time I read this I pondered the question: Did salvation come with the missionaries who brought us the Word of God, or were we, in our own way, already saved? I will leave it to the readers to decide after reading the prayer:

O my Father, Great Elder

I have no words to thank you

And with deep wisdom

I am sure that you can see how I value your glorious gifts

O my father, when I look upon your greatness

I am confounded with awe

O great elder

                                                                        Ruler of all things earthly  and  heavenly

                                                                                            I am your warrior

                                                                                  Ready to act according to your will.

How Good is God?

…By Wambui

God is good

All the time

And all the time

God is good.

And that’s his nature.

I’ve heard this said so many times that sometimes I find myself switching off even before the end of the first line.  Now why would I want to switch off, yet that statement is so loaded with meaning?  Could it be that it sounds like a nursery rhyme and is a bit too simplistic for my “mature” mind?  Could it be that this mind which I think is “mature” is actually too undeveloped to fully grasp how good God is?  Could it be that in God’s dictionary, good is defined in the whole of creation, yet in mine, the definition takes up two lines of a two inch column?

 So exactly how good is God?  And what exactly does his goodness mean?  I shall not even attempt to answer that in one sentence, because now I realise that it would be fruitless – it would never work.  Now I admit that my mind is indeed too small to understand the full extent of God’s goodness all at once, so I can only try to break it down into manageable ideas.  Here we go. 

My life is a blank piece of paper...any mark on that paper is either written by God, or He has allowed someone to write on it.

My life is a blank piece of paper, like the one used to make photocopies.  Not even a single line on it like in a notebook, but completely blank.  Any mark on that paper is either written by God, or he has allowed someone to write on it.  Long before I’m even conceived, he draws out an elaborate map of the path he wants my life to take.  He plots every twist and turn with accuracy that makes a Google map look like a child’s colouring.  He maps out the timing of each event with more accuracy than NASA equipment.  In short, everything that happens to me, he has either done himself or has allowed it to be done.

If God is so powerful, why does he not punish the people who are funding genocides, political violence and destruction of the environment?

Which leads to other questions.  If he’s so good and only wants the best for me, then why are bad things happening all around me?  Why are two year old girls being raped by HIV positive men?  Why are babies dying of cancer before they can even walk?  Why would a God who is so good allow a woman who has dedicated her life to serving him give birth to four children who are all blind? If God is so powerful, why does he not punish the people who are funding genocides, political violence and destruction of the environment?

Maybe one day, my small, simple, undeveloped mind will understand that God is so good, that he’s also good to the people we consider bad.  He’s so good, that he gives us all an equal chance to do good and tell others about his goodness.  He’s so good, that he forgives us whenever we mess up, but apologize and make a sincere effort not to mess up again.  Even when we’re hurting others by polluting the environment, borrowing our friends’ partners, neglecting our families or exploiting those who cannot stand up for themselves,  God still gives us a chance to make good our messes.

Evidence of God's goodness...

Doesn’t this God sound too good to be true?  To some extent, doesn’t he sound like he can’t decide if he wants a world that’s good or bad?  Maybe one day when my mind opens up enough to understand God’s goodness I’ll be able to answer that question.  In the meantime, I’ll just bask in all the good things that happen to me.

If I get home today in one piece, that’s his goodness.

If I wake up tomorrow and can still breathe, that’s his goodness.

If tomorrow, I find even one thing to laugh about, that’s his goodness.

If I have enough hope to make plans for next week, that’s his goodness.

If I can have the audacity to question his goodness, that’s definitely his goodness.

In His Presence

…By Wambui

Have you ever felt God so near you that you could almost hear Him breathing?  Have you ever felt so surrounded by Him that the sheer intensity of His presence made you shudder?

Mt. Kilimanjaro, almost six kilometres above sea level - the highest point in Africa.

My experience was much unexpected.  It was on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, almost six kilometres above sea level – the highest point in Africa.  It was the fourth day of our expedition; we had been walking all night to reach the summit, and were hungry, cold and utterly exhausted.  I dragged my feet to the edge of the cliff to get a good view of the landscape below.  As (bad) luck would have it, our pace had been too slow, so the sun was already high up, and had caused thick clouds to form below us.  Instead of seeing the land below, all I could see was clouds – layer upon layer of clouds.  I was disappointed.

Just as I resigned myself to accepting that I would see nothing but thick clouds below, out of the corner of my eye, I saw some movement.  It was not one of the people in the expedition; it was the movement of clouds right in front of me.  These were not the thick clouds I had been staring at far below; they were light wisps of water vapour right at my eye’s level.  Then I realised what was happening.  The moisture laden wind blowing across the plain was now blowing up the cliff at whose edge I was standing, cooling and forming clouds right before my eyes.  

The first was God as a child playing happily with bubbles which floated upwards into beautiful formations.

Two images came to my mind simultaneously.  The first was God as a child playing happily with bubbles which floated upwards into beautiful formations.  The second was God standing right next to me – a renowned musician conducting the symphony of nature. Then He looked at me and smiled, and I shuddered.  The raw power of that moment made me shudder and all I could think was, “O Lord, my God. How majestic is your name in all the earth.”  It could have been my untamed imagination playing tricks on me, but at that moment, I felt like I was sitting right next to God when he said, “Let there be light.”

To this day, whenever I remember that moment, I find myself smiling.  I’m still surprised at how I had such an amazing experience at a time when I was at my worst – exhausted, frost-bitten, sunburnt, hungry and disappointed.  It also makes me ask myself why I should be afraid of death, if dying means that I’ll experience that moment every day. 

 I don’t have the answer to that question.  All I know is that the answer will come when I least expect it.