by William Anderson
There is a common conception about God that I had always had trouble understanding-the notion that God is omniscient, or all-knowing. The adjective implies that God sees all things, past and present before him. But if this were to be true, then all my decisions have already been foreseen by God and therefore, all already predetermined. Would this then imply that, ultimately the notion of free agency is flawed, as all my choices have already been seen by a God who is all knowing?
Then my 3-year-old daughter taught me a lesson with Fruit Loops. It was the morning after my wife had been to the grocery store. It was awesome because that meant there was lots of food. One of the items purchased was a giant box of Fruit Loops. This was the kind of box that was 20% more free. It was big, brand new and therefore, completely full.
Now I am trying hard as a dad to foster a sense of independence and confidence in my children. I encourage my children to attempt new things. I want them to be challenged, work hard and see themselves be successful. That morning, Ellie decided that she wanted to pour the cereal herself… suddenly, I could see into the future. I knew exactly what was about to happen. I knew that, as a result of me letting her try this new challenge of making herself breakfast, that she was going to dump cereal everywhere. And guess what? She did. I am smarter than Ellie. I have more knowledge, more wisdom, and I have experienced many more things in 31 years than she has in 3.
However, it was not a total disaster. I was able to use the mess she made as an opportunity for us to go over what went wrong and how to do it right the next time. By letting her see what it was like to fail, she knew what to expect next time, and what to do better. Her confidence grew.
For the first time in my life I had a very clear understanding of how God’s omniscience may be reconciled with the notion of free agency and freedom of choice. Our Heavenly Father is infinitely more experienced and knowledgeable than us. He has experience and wisdom vastly beyond what we have learned in the few short years we have spent on this earth. He knows us. He knows what we are capable of, and what we are good at. When we are faced with choices and decisions, it may be very easy for him to foresee the outcome even if, to us, we are unsure of the consequences of our choices. Seemingly complicated tasks and trials to us, are to Him, perhaps as confusing and scary as Fruit Loops.