I sit reading my little daily devotional and, as so often happens, a random thought like a tiny bolt out of the blue crosses my mind. It has nothing at all to do with the scripture in front of me, but there it is. And I know it will stay with me - for once entertained these thoughts are loathe to leave on their own.
"Why," the little voice in my head asked, "didn't the Lord just crush satan like a bug the minute he puffed out his chest and declared he wanted to be like Him?"
Hmm....why indeed? Think of all the heartache and suffering it would have saved. Imagine living in the perfect garden with no one to tempt them to evil. How would the story have unfolded then?
But the Lord didn't crush Him. He allowed satan to choose the path he would follow and his choice set the clock ticking. There is always, it seems, this matter of choice.
Last evening our Pastor spoke on heaven and hell - a sermon topic guaranteed to either draw a crowd or offer up lots of empty seats. We are, apparently, a brave lot, and the church was filled.
He spoke of heaven, with its unimagined beauty and joy. He spoke of hell and the unimagined torment and agony. He didn't pull any punches. He taught that heaven is real and apart from Christ we will spend eternity there. He used Luke 16 and the story of Lazarus and the rich man.
Then he asked the inevitable question - the one we have all heard and perhaps secretly wondered about:
"How could a loving God send people to hell?"
In answer he quoted from one of Max Lucado's books:
"He doesn't. He honors their choice."
There it is again - this matter of choice. It is of such great importance to the Father that He has wrapped it in eternity. He will not settle for coerced children. He is holding out for love.
He holds nothing back - not even His only Son. He has poured out His great heart, and now He waits. Everything of value is available to us...everything. He isn't willing that one should perish, but He waits. We have a choice. We always have choices.
I'm joining Michelle for Hear it on Sunday. Use it on Monday.