So we look at God in this way—He either has total control so that He can
keep us safe OR He gave us free will (which many equate with NO control)
because He wants us to choose (read “like”) Him.
But, as with parenting, these extremes are not where the truth is found.
Grace-Based Discipline is about being comfortable in your authority—so
comfortable that you can be both kind and firm, and comfortable with letting
your children learn from their own mistakes AS WELL AS your instruction.
The Greek word for “obey” carries with it the implied meaning that the person
being obeyed has earned the trust and respect of the person doing the obeying.
Obedience is voluntary. Instruction to obey—both God and parents—is
spoken to the reader; the one who is being told to do the obeying. And just as
there is no Biblical instruction for a parent to make their child obey, there is no
Biblical principle that God makes us obey. God neither controls us nor lets us
go our own way and hopes we get it right so that we like Him. He doesn’t fear
us, or strive to please us. He simply IS God and believes with full confidence
that this is enough—that we need Him and either know it or will come to. He is
faithful, and trustworthy, and woos us, then gives us freedom to make our own
I believe it takes great strength to watch while your child makes a poor choice,
to bite your tongue and let them learn from their mistake, to embrace them
without an “I told you so” when they learn. I believe it takes greater strength for
the God of the universe to sit and watch while His children make
mistakes—even as great as wishing He were dead and running away. I believe
that God set up natural consequences and then chooses to let them run their
course. I believe He can intervene, even that He does intervene, but that’s not
the way He set it up to be. He doesn’t micromanage. He leads. He doesn’t
make us wear a helmet to explore. He tells us that we need the helmet of
salvation and then lets us decide whether or not to put it on. Same with the rest
of our full armor of God.
So does all suffering mean we’ve messed up and are experiencing the natural
consequences of our choices?