Tag Archive | choices

Lessons Learned while Writing: Omniscience vs Free Will

This might seem like an odd thing to learn about while writing fiction but hang in there with me. My master’s degree is from a seminary. I have taught theology and studied the attributes of God. His omniscience vs out free will is an issue people have been arguing about for centuries.

I don’t really have the answer to that debate although I fully believe in both. God knows everything which should terrify us. EVERYTHING. Every thought and intention of our hearts, our motives, the words we don’t say out loud but think. Our wants and desires. Our deepest fears. Amazingly enough, He wanted His human creation, dependant upon Him for every breath we take and every beat of our hearts, to have the freedom to accept or reject Him.

He didn’t want puppets to worship Him. He wanted people willing to give their all to Him because He called and we chose to respond.

Now we could debate about how could God, who knows everything we will do, give us free will since He already knows we will do it?

I can’t answer that. Some thoughts are far too lofty for this mere mortal.

But I came to a place of peace with this because of my writing. It is not a perfect illustration because again, as a writer, I’m a mortal, not eternal like God is.

When I write my story I have an idea of what the journey for my characters will be like and who they are. (Remember, these people don’t really exist even if they seem to in my mind).  I have a general concept of my ending. Since I write happily-ever-afters it will be a happy ending. There will be love. Maybe a kiss or a wedding, and regardless of where my characters start on their journey, they will have grown emotionally and spiritually. Because I’m human and haven’t written the book yet, I’m not sure of all the details of those journeys to love and greater wholeness.

Whether a writer is a panster (write by the seat of his/her pants) or a plotter, planning out general points of the story’s plot, our characters sometimes surprise us. I can have in-depth interviews with these imaginary people but they sometimes throw me for a loop with a memory, or an issue I wasn’t expecting. Sometimes they make a choice I didn’t anticipate. However, I get them to my desired end for the book.

Once the book is written I am fully aware of their choices and decisions and the precise ending.

God knows my beginning and my end. He has a plan and a purpose for my life but I still make choices. Unlike me as an author, God is never surprised because He’s already read the end of my story. He read it before I was even born. That doesn’t mean He dictated my path.

I’m not even sure if that fully makes sense to you, but it does to me. I can’t understand just how it really works with an all-knowing, sovereign Lord, only that I can listen for His voice and maybe I’ll make mistakes, but He will get me to my desired end and use me to fulfill His purpose here on earth. Maybe I’ll sport some bruises from my failures, but He will never stop loving me on the journey through my story.

And He is also the One who leads me as I write. How else can my characters surprise me if my God-given imagination didn’t let that happen? An imagination designed for me combined with my history and past experiences to create a story out of nothing because I am an image-bearer of the Creator Himself.

Maybe this is too lofty, but I’ve found peace in not understanding how it all happens. It is a holy mystery beyond my ability to grasp but His omniscience doesn’t negate free will and there is wonderful security in that truth.

A Secret Life (Book Review)

ASecretLife_ecoverWorld War II novels are popular but A Secret Life, by Lee Carver, stands apart in the world of fiction. 

As war breaks out around them, Karl Von Steuben, fears for his family’s safety. With dual American/German citizenship and a secret Jewish heritage on his mother’s side, the Christian family finds their faith and lives in danger. Kidnapped and forced into the German army rips Karl away from his privileged life and any hope of escape. He could never shoot an American and looks for an opportunity to cross the lines of war, risking being caught as an enemy. When the opportunity arises, he assumes a dead American soldier’s identity and crawls to the Siegfried Line carrying with him the secret hiding place of gold ingots melted from the jewelry of death camp prisoners. A battle injury robs him for a time of his memory, real name and history.
Eventually he gains awareness of the horrible truth but more secrets have to stay buried lest he be branded a war criminal in spite of the valuable aid he provides to the American side of the war effort. Eventually he is discharged and shipped to America under his assumed name. Alone in a foreign land, he rediscovers the faith of his past and the truth of God’s unmerited favor in a beautiful Atlanta nurse, Grace. The only problem is, Karl’s real name, identity and family fortune lies oversees in post-war Germany. Claiming them and owning the truth of who he is could give him the life he longs for with his new wife, but at the same time jeopardizes their marriage. Would Grace, and his adopted country, ever forgive him?
The twists and turns of this complex tale also covers the story of Karl’s family and their struggle during the war. Historically grounded and well researched the characters and their struggles come to life on the page. The heart-rending truth of the horrors of war and the choices that have to be made are well told without being gory. It’s a beautifully told tale of love, faith and difficult choices.