Predestination and the free will of mankind. Both are biblical truths, but they don't seem to fit well together. We tend to somehow absorb one into the other, favoring either the sovereignty of God, or the sovereignty of our wills.
CS Lewis suggested that freedom and predestination are two sides of the same coin. They converge when we freely fulfill our destiny. And it could be argued that we were destined before the foundation of all worlds to freely do His will. So when in freedom we delight to do God's will, we know a peace and a strength and a wholeness of person in our spirit that confirms we are, in fact, fulfilling our destiny, living as we were intended to live.
I think I have said more-or-less the same thing three times now. It's a wondrous thing to contemplate.
CS Lewis' muse on this one is found once again in Perelandra, the second book in his space trilogy. Lewis likes to imagine other worlds created by God where God and Jesus and the angels and such are known by different names. To keep things simple for those not familiar with this book or Lewis' style, I will translate his storied ideas into the more familiar idioms of God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, Adam and Eve, etc. If I lose you anyway, I guess that's on me. The outline of the story is this:
God creates a new world by Jesus on Venus. Because of Jesus' redemptive work on earth, the creatures made in God's image there are in human form (to honor the Son of God, who took on human flesh). We'll call the Eve-like woman 'the Queen' and the Adam-like man 'the King. The devil comes in the form of a deranged scientist from earth to derail the new world by turning the Queen away from God through subtle manipulation and a twisting of Jesus' words to her. The archangel of Mars, whose world had been previously attacked by the devil as well, sends a Catholic philologist from Earth, named Ransom, to offset the scientist's lies. Things come to a head for Ransom when he finally comes to the conclusion that the only way to save this new world, is to kill the devil-possessed scientist – whose name is Weston, but who has been so taken over by Satan that Ransom thinks of him as an “un-man.”
Of course, Ransom doesn't want to kill anyone. Of course, he feels outmatched and unable to stand against this incarnate evil that now confronts him. And yet he realizes that this is the reason he has been brought to Venus. His faith tells him that if he fails, or chooses not to fulfill his mission by killing Weston, God will forgive him. His faith tells him that God will find another way to save or redeem things in the new world. Ransom initially thinks of himself as struggling like Peter, the disciple who denied Jesus but was later forgiven.
Ransom hears a Voice sounding within his spirit saying, “My name is also Ransom.” A fuller understanding of what this means begins to grow in his mind. He begins to realize that if he fails to eliminate the evil one and Venus falls, Venus will yet be redeemed – by the very One who had offered Himself on the cross for mankind's redemption on Earth. It then strikes him that he was not before the Lord like Peter, but rather the Lord was before him like He had been before Pilate. It lay with Ransom whether to offer himself in obedience or to offer up the Lord. “It lay with him to save or to spill. His hands had been reddened, as all men's hands have been, in the slaying before the foundation of the world; now, if he chose, he could dip them again in the same blood.”
Once he saw the paths of decision for what they were, something greater than a resolution formed in Ransom. Though his aversion to and fear of what he had to do did not change, he began to see that in the course of time, the deed would have been done – he would have done it: “There was going to arrive, in the course of time, a moment in which he would have done it. The future act stood there, fixed and unaltered as if he had already performed it. It was a mere irrelevant detail that it happened to occupy the position we call future instead of that which we call past. The whole struggle was over, and yet there seemed to have been no moment of victory. You might say, if you liked, that the power of choice had been simply set aside and an inflexible destiny substituted for it. On the other hand, you might say that he had been delivered from the rhetoric of his passions and had emerged into unassailable freedom. Ransom could not, for the life of him, see any difference between these two statements. Predestination and freedom were apparently identical.”
I suppose the bottom line from this crazy ramble is that we are most free when we are fulfilling what we were created to do and be. When we fulfill our predestined purpose, we will find fulfillment of being – an inner strength, satisfaction, contentment, and even joy. And all the inner conflict dissolves... I don't know about you, but I am longing for the Day when that is a reality.