Perhaps the most scandalous thing about God is that he allows human beings such freedom as we possess.
He allows man to drift into error. He requires that human beings develop internal accountability. He provides principles and occasionally specific direction, but he leaves so very much in our hands. He forces us to choose between things.
The choice is the essential unit of the soul.
Every day is filled with choices we’ve already made, choices we are currently making, and setting the stage for choices that will be made. Those choices are constantly making us what we will become, as what we are is a culmination of our past choices.
Every complaint to God ultimately is a question of what he has allowed to happen. It is a complaint of the results of the free will of his creation. And surely we are not ever fully in control of our circumstances.
But choice is pervasive and unrelenting.
[Job 7:17-18 ESV] 17 What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, 18 visit him every morning and test him every moment?
Every moment we are tested to reinforce or stick to choices we’ve made or things we’ve chosen to value. Every day is up for grabs. Choices fatigue us. They wear us down. They even force us to prioritize among themselves.
It is only by our choices and our subsequent actions that we are known. We cannot trust our mental images or our words or even what we think we believe. If our actions – our choices – do not line up with those things, we are deceiving ourselves.
If your observed actions do not line up with what you claim to believe and what you claim to think, you are living a fantasy.
The scandal of God is that he allows, for a short time, man to live in his own fantasies. Reality bears down on us; it first sprinkles, then rains and pours and thunders and lightning flashes and cracks around us. In crucial moments the fantasies flee and we find ourselves seeking fig leaves to cover the nakedness of which we are suddenly aware.
No man is strong enough to live in pure, harsh, unrestrained reality all of the time. But we must recognize and avoid dwelling too long in fantasies, in houses built upon the sand of human imagination, upon the things we wish were eternal.
We must progress to recognizing certain things as distinctly temporal and fading so we can appreciate them in their time; the company of our parents and our relatives. The wisdom of our elders. The warmth of defiant flesh not yet turned back to dust.
The edifices we choose to create can be lovely and wonderful fantasies – they can exist for a time and be comforting and edifying to many, but only so long as we appreciate them as temporary vessels, as inflatable rafts, as spare tires. They are only meant to last so long.
Sometimes they last far shorter a time than we imagined, and it is then we can be glad we appreciated them for what they were.