On Free Will and Fault Lines (Devotional)

Phyllis Nissila


 Traveling along Interstate 280, which borders the San Andreas Lake and Crystal Springs Reservoir in Northern California, one is struck by the drastic difference in the topography of the two shores. On the west the land resembles a desert, on the east it resembles the greenery more commonly associated with this agricultural mecca.

The cause of the geologic dichotomy is the varied soil and mineral content of the two sections of the earth’s crust that juncture here atop the San Andreas Fault. The Pacific Plate, inching north, tugs its dryer terrain from the Southern Sierra Nevadas past the lush North American Plate. [1]

Most of the time, the tectonic slide-by is subtle: a crack here, a fissure there. Bit by bit, decade by decade, one massive chunk of terra firma sledge-hammers slowly past another, two irrefutable forces on a grand collision course. At times, the pressure intensifies, wreaking havoc, as in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

When I witnessed this dual-landscape on a trip there a few years ago and researched the cause, it reminded me of the power of free will: what I consider the most potent witness of God’s love.


I often wonder if, at the doorway of creation, God cringed just a little when He set free will in motion. Did He hesitate at all before unleashing this force capable of such good and such evil? Indeed, the dew was still on Eden when man’s will first collided with God’s will: two different kinds of power, like the two land masses on either side of the San Andreas Fault.

And yet, our Creator gifted us with the freedom to choose—right, wrong; good, evil; salvation, damnation—when He could have kept it all to Himself, wrapped us in eternal certainty, and lost no one.

But how would that be love?

Instead, God desired our “yes’s” and “no’s” to arise freely from our own will, not from choices forced or inevitable. He decided to share with us power capable of great destruction but also capable of moving mountains of a non-geologic kind; healing the sick of mind, body, and soul; and yielding to His transforming love.

And that’s not all.


At a pivotal juncture in history God sent His own Son to our plain and put upon Him the havoc resulting from our bad choices. God sent Jesus to pay our sin debt so that the fissure separating us from God could be sealed forever and not, like cracks in the earth’s crust, continually edge us toward destruction.

God sent Jesus so that in Him the consequence of our collisions with God’s will, choices that separate us from Him—and from each other—are removed “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). A cross, blood pooled beneath, marks the spot.

Even so, he awaits our decision.

Let Him heal your broken places today.


[1] The San Andreas Fault and the San Francisco Bay Area. 06 Jan. 2008. http://sepwww.standford.edu/oldsep/joe/fault_images/BayAreaSanAndreasFault.html

Photo from the public domain.

This entry was posted in Devotionals, free will, most recent posts, On Free Will and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to On Free Will and Fault Lines (Devotional)

  1. pnissila says:

    Well put, Cathy! Hope all is well with you.


  2. Cathy says:

    So true, without free-will we would be “just robots”! Because God sent his only begotten son, he has made it possible to be with him in Eternal life in “True Peace and Love!”


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