Some of the changes in life were imposed, and some were chosen – if by ‘chosen’ I may mean that I chose what I seemed already to have been chosen by, desire having obscured the alternatives. (From Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry, pg. 29)

As I was reading this wonderful novel about Jayber Crow, the fictional barber of the fictional town of Port William, Kentucky, I was struck by this statement. As a student and pastor, I have done a lot of thinking and reading and musing and meditating about the issue of reconciling divine sovereignty and the human will. Haven’t we all? Questions pertaining to these seemingly contradictory truths arise constantly in small groups, youth groups, and countless other groups, and I often formulate answers that feel unsatisfactory, both to myself and others. Yet this simple statement penned by Wendell Berry made me wonder if it may be helpful to think of free will as Jayber does – as a perceived reality. He says that some changes in his life were imposed – forced upon him – while others he ‘chose,’ though his choice also seemed forced. That he in essence chose what was the only possible choice for him.

I don’t know if that’s what is meant by the statement, but the thought of an “imposed choice,” and that my will may only be a perceived reality is helpful to me. Even comforting. Probably because I find it to ring true with who God has revealed Himself to be in His word and who I have seen myself to be as I’ve looked into the mirror of Scripture.

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