Thursday, November 27, 2008

You Can't Make Me

Personal sovereignty is a big issue for toddlers, and I took it on with enthusiasm. "I do it myself" was my mantra. I don't know that "you can't make me!" ever became a common phrase in my day-to-day language, but it certainly described my attitude. And it wasn't just in the toddler years. I discovered at a very young age that, while my parents and other authority figures could add pleasant things to my life when I did as they preferred, and could make things more difficult when I did not, they could not make me do as they wished.

There is actually quite a lot of meat in that simple lesson I learned as a toddler.

Personal sovereignty is still an issue for all of us. Who is really in charge of my life? For years, the most important answer to me was "not you." Nobody else could determine what I would do or not do. Just me. Others could make suggestions, offer rewards, and even punish me for doing certain things, and it was reasonable to consider those factors, but in the end, it would always be my decision. Once I had decided to follow Christ, I needed to consider it more deeply. Who is really in charge of my life? I love that God gives us personal sovereignty. Each decision is still mine. But I love even more that God guides us in His good way, and I want my decisions to be aligned with His desires.

The other thing on my mind today is that you can't make me mad, just like my mom couldn't make me eat my vegetables or clean my room. You can frustrate my plans, lie to me, lie about me, neglect a commitment, or fail to keep a promise. You shouldn't, but you can -- those are decisions you can make. But you cannot make me mad -- that is my decision. Thankfully, that is not the only option. Just as I have the option to nurture anger, I also have the option to choose whom to trust, how much to risk, whether to forgive, to love, to give grace.

I imagine I'll always wrestle some with this notion of personal sovereignty, but I am thankful for that opportunity.

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