By Kelly Carr
In the past few years, friends of mine have persuaded me to read some young adult book series, such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Giver. At first I didn’t think I’d like reading dystopian novels—it’s not my usual preference—but they had some creative plotlines and characters.
One theme in the three of these series is similar, and you will find it in many books and movies—there is a governing authority that has made specific rules to control and contain its citizens, and the main characters are fighting for freedom.
We Get to Choose
I’ve sometimes wondered why God wasn’t more controlling when he created us, just like the fictionalized authorities in these novels. Yes, he has created boundaries to keep us safe and help us grow into the best people we can become—but we are free to choose to obey or not. They key is that God allows us free will. He isn’t the controlling bad guy, even though sometimes people characterize him that way.
Wouldn’t it have been less of a headache for God to simply force our acquiescence? I know that’s how I sometimes feel as a parent! Can’t I just make my child do what I want her to do? But I also understand the joy when I see my daughter choosing to obey or demonstrating acts of kindness on her own. If she were programmed to behave like a robot, her actions would not exhibit sincere love.
Perhaps that is God’s perspective about us—our free will allows us to show him sincere love. He is willing to take the risk that we will reject him so that when we do choose love, it is not manufactured but rather genuine and beautiful.
Look at the Heartache
Was that an easy decision for God to make when he was planning out creation? After all, look at all the heartache humanity’s free will has produced. Surely we break God’s heart more often than we break one another’s.
Yet God continues to forgive—as many times as we ask him. Even in his discipline, just as all parents must enact, he offers new beginnings. And he continues to create blessings, even for those who turn their backs on him. He reaches out and offers love and grace.
That’s resilient love. It’s a love we can all strive to replicate, but only God does it perfectly. It’s a love I can hardly fathom, with its depth and mercy.
I’d say it’s a tough love.
When the Loving Gets Tough
We use the term “tough love” to describe the type of situations we have to face when confrontation must be used and boundaries must be established. We use that term when we think of having to say no, even though it tests relationships.
But I’d say the love God has for us is tough in a different way—it’s sturdy. It gets beat up, but it never wanes. It’s like a pickup truck in commercials—mud-splattered and driving over rocky, resistant terrain, yet never stopping.
God’s love remains. And we get to choose how to respond to such persistence. Being in any relationship isn’t easy—much less a relationship with an invisible, perfect supreme being! Yet how nice it is to be asked.
Each day we have the option. Let’s decide to return sincere, tough love to the one who created it.