…Coming to understand how God was active in our world was a difficult journey for me. In all my years as a follower of Jesus I have never struggled with the idea that God exists. The assurance about God existence has been hard wired into my consciousness from birth. I also never had a problem with assurance of salvation after I turned to Jesus. From the moment I decided to follow Jesus I have known that God was with me and that I was his child. What I could not figure out was if and how God was involved in the lives of the people around me. Part of the reason why it took me so long to figure out how God was involved was that I did not understand how prayer worked. I knew that prayer was not equivalent to magic. God is not our personal genie existing to satisfy our every whim. Yet, I did not want big TVs and expensive cars. If there was anything that I wanted, it was to see other people turn to Jesus. I had found the most precious gift in the world, and I wanted others to discover it as well. What discouraged me was that many of my family and friends did not find my newfound faith all that appealing. They had their own ideas about God and about faith, and turning to Jesus did not seem to interest them in any way… God gradually reshaped my perspective. Over the course of a year and a half I gradually realized that God was not the limited, “hamstrung-until-I-prayed” deity that I had been taught he was. God showed me that he was actively at work in the lives of everyone around me. His mission was to reconcile the world to himself (2 Cor. 5:18-21). Due to this he was actively involved in his world, revealing himself to everyone through the things that he had made. I also realized that God was touching the hearts and minds of people by means of the quiet, invisible, yet ever-present Holy Spirit, creating a desire within people for justice and righteousness… The Bible appears to portray God as the Sovereign who effectively manages the universe, not as one who “controls” everything, that is, exercising meticulous providence over all we do. Even though God is sovereign, the Bible portrays God’s will as not being done, his good intentions hampered by disobedience. This is one of the reasons why Jesus encourages us to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10). God’s sovereignty and human freedom have been truths the Church has consistently affirmed through history, albeit with a level of tension. The Scriptures indicate that God made us in a very finite way like himself with an inherent (yet, limited) freedom of movement. This freedom of movement appears in the creation narrative in Genesis 3. In Genesis 2 we see God actively involved in the story. Then after God presents the woman to the man (2:22), God quietly wrong decision. God’s absence appears to highlight the woman and the man’s freedom of choice. If God had been visibly present, his visible presence would have limited the man and woman’s freedom of movement. We conclude this because once God reappears in the narrative (in Genesis 3:8) the first couple hides from him in fear or shame (3:10). I failed to understand the impact of our limited autonomy for many years. Paul addresses the impact of this in Romans. As Paul gives a brief history of humankind he writes three times that since humans wanted to resist God, God let humans go their own way. • So God let these people go their own way. They did what they wanted to do (1:24). • God let them follow their own evil desires (1:26). • Since these people refused even to think about God, he let their useless minds rule over them (1:28 CEV). Why did God let humans go their own way? It is because love has to be freely given; it cannot be compelled. If we do not want to love God, he lets us go our own way. Isaiah 53:6 points out that this was our choice: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – everyone – to his own way.” The Scripture appears to indicate that love for another has to be freely given. We intuitively know this; but sometimes we miss its significance. Isaiah immediately describes God’s response to our rejection of him and to our going our own way: “and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is. 53:6 ESV). Though God let us go our own way, he remained stubbornly persistent in his love and provided Jesus as the means to remove our iniquity and be reconciled back to him. God’s love is unfailing and unending. Fortunately for us, God does not treat us as our sins deserve (Psalm 103:10). …God is not a deity who is unable to work in this world unless we pray. He is always actively involved, working through his Spirit to convince each and every one of us of his presence in the world, of his goodness, of his undying love, and of all that he has done for us in Christ. God wants us to absolutely certain of his active involvement. In addition, God in his divine love and mercy has incorporated us in his divine plan to save the world. He uses our lives as he works to convince people of sin, righteousness, and judgment. We are his living letters, providing tangible evidence that the gospel is real. The people around us see the difference Christ and his Spirit makes in our lives.