Free Will vs. Purpose in Life

crop photo of woman reading the bible and praying

Curiosity leads to learning

One thing I have always struggled with as a Christian, and honestly became harder to wrap my head around as I went through RCIA classes to convert Catholic, is free will versus purpose. We as Christians are told God gave us all free will, or the ability to act at one’s own discretion. However, we are also told that we all are given a purpose in life that we are to some day carry out. How can we have both, I’ve always wondered? We can’t possibly be have been created solely for one thing when we have the free will to choose how we live our lives, or so I thought.

When in doubt, pray.

I was laying in bed reading my daily verse and journaling when the thought came rushing to the front of my mind, ‘how in the world does God say we have free will, but we are all created for a purpose… That makes NO sense.’ So I prayed. Here is what I have come to learn.

Free Will as told by the Bible

Galatians 6:7 – “Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows.” We do in fact have free will which is only limited by nature. What I mean is we can freely choose to walk across the street or not, but we cannot fly across. But, we must also keep in mind that all of our choices have consequences. Did we run across without looking and miss the car coming towards us? Or did we decide to look both ways before crossing and waited patiently? What happens next is our own to deal with. Then why does the Bible say we still have a purpose, we are created in God’s image to fulfill His plans for us.

Think about yourself as a parent

If you are a parent, think about your child for a moment. Let’s say there is a piece of cake sitting on a plate right in front of them, your phone rings and you tell them to be patient and wait for you to get back before going hog wild on that piece of cake. What do you think they will do? Chances are your mind went straight to “oh heaven’s my child will have that gone long before I get back! Or you thought something like “my child will probably sit patiently and wait for me so they do not get in trouble.”

Now why would you know what they are going to do? I’ll tell you and this will tie together my point and the lesson I learned through prayer. No one on Earth knows that child better than you. Do you get it yet? We are all children of God, our Father. Who knows us better than He? Psalms 139:13 “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.” Before our parents knew us and us our children, God knew us.

Proverbs 16:9 “The human heart plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.”

When we watch our children make choices daily for themselves, we can pretty well assume what they are going to do. God is far more advanced in His knowledge of us. He knows our thoughts before we think them, our words before they are spoken. So although we have absolutely been given free will, He already knows which path we will follow.

God gives us purpose

This is something I have spent quite some time studying, praying about and learning. If we pay attention, I believe that God will show us what He wants us to learn. During a recent shopping trip to Hobby Lobby I was strolling through the wall decor with Bible verses on them and one caught my eye. It was Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you hope and a future.” He was showing me that He does have plans, and He knows the choices I make will lead me to where I need to be.

There is a catch however. We need to live our lives according to the lord, live as Jesus did. What does that mean though? Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” We cannot just live without consequence assuming that God’s plan for us will just fall in to place regardless of our choices. That is not how this works. He says that to fulfill our purpose we must live as Jesus did, with love and kindness. Our first priority is to follow His commandments, raise God fearing children and teach them His ways. If we fail to do so, we are failing to fulfill our purpose.

What if we screw up?

Sin is not something we as humans can truly avoid, we are created imperfect. But if we shall fail, the Lord just asks that we come to Him with our sin and lay it out, baring all. According to Proverbs 28:13 “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Once we have confessed our mistakes to the Lord, He will help guide us back to our paths. There are many roads that lead to one destination, even if you take a detour, you can always find your way back.

2 Timothy 2:21 “If anyone cleanses himself of these things, he will be a vessel for lofty use, dedicated, beneficial to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

Throughout my reading, prayers and studying, I have learned that we can have both free will and purpose. God is our Father, He knows us better than we know ourselves. He has anticipate every decision and knows the path we will choose. Therefore, God has set for us, a purpose to fulfill and a journey to get us there. We must just live as the Lord has asked, and He will help guide us to His glory. Amen!

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