“Love that is forced is no love at all.”

In the beginning of God’s relationship with humanity we see God giving human beings the opportunity to choose between good and evil.

Humanity misused our free will and instead of choosing to follow God, we chose to try to declare independence from God. We tried to become God.

Have you ever tried to FORCE someone to like you? You do things, say things, try to treat them really special so that they will like you?

It’s impossible. You can’t FORCE someone to like you – it either happens or it doesn’t’.

The same is true with Love. We can’t force someone to love us, sometimes even as much as we want him or her to.

If you’ve ever been in love with someone, think about how it would have been if you had to FORCE him or her to act as if they loved you

Independence is a beautiful thing. It enables us to be in dynamic, life-giving relationships with one another. But – like all great things, it has a shadow side. It enables us to have the room to make mistakes.

In The Shack Papa and Mack are in conversation together and Papa tells Mack, “Independence is your choice. If I were to simply revoke all the choices of independence, the world as you know it would cease to exist and love would have no meaning.

This world is not a playground where I keep all my children free from evil. Evil is the chaos of this age that you brought to me, but it will not have the final say. Now it touches everyone I love, those who follow me and those who don’t. If I take away the consequences of people’s choices, I destroy the possibility of love. Love that is forced is no love at all” (p. 192).

“Also,” she interrupted, “don’t forget that in the midst of all your pain and heartache, you are surrounded by beauty, the wonder of creation, art, your music and culture, the sounds of laughter and love, of whispered hopes and celebrations, of new life and transformation, of reconciliation and forgiveness. These also are the results of your choices, and every choice matters, even the hidden ones. So whose choices should we countermand, Mackenzie? Perhaps I should never have created? Perhaps Adam should have been stopped before he chose independence? What about your choice to have another daughter, or your father’s choice to beat his son? You demand your independence but then complain that I actually love you enough to give it to you. (p. 193).

We must learn to understand that because of our independence, sometimes bad things happen. We aren’t going to be able to blame people for them, much less blame God. There is a world in motion. Things happen. Your choices affect my choices. Yet in it all, God is there. It is not all bad and . . . like Fredrick Beuchner said, “The worst things are NEVER the last things.”

Mark 8:34:
Jesus called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

We follow Jesus through his ministry, we follow him to the cross, and we follow him to the resurrection. God gives us the ability to choose. In these three statements we see proof – the worst things are never the last things.