Some people will tell you that their dog is more loyal than many of their friends, or that their cat is smarter than most people. But if you pressed them, most likely they would have to admit that what makes their pets so attractive and loving is that they rarely talk back or get set in their opinions and ways. Rex will do anything for a treat, and even the most aloof cat will snuggle up to you when he needs to eat. But people have their own way of doing things and their own opinions. Life among creatures with free will has never been easy, to which countless wars, divorces, community chapters and parish council meetings can confirm.
It comes as a surprise to some people that God has a free will too. And even for those who know this on an intellectual level, prayer can often become a matter of trying to get God to do what we want him to do. Many of us share the problem of forgetting to pray until we need something. Some people even go to great extremes to attempt to manipulate the outcome, as though saying the right words, the right number of times can determine the desired result.
But, as we all know, God doesn’t always jump when we shout ‘jump’. God also has a will and a design and a plan. Sometimes we may catch ourselves grumbling that wicked people prosper, that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. But the plan of our free and loving God has little to do with tonight’s winning lottery ticket. The guarantee of the Gospel is not that we will get everything we want. Rather, it is God’s will that we will get everything we need.