The movie The Adjustment Bureau is about a “Chairman’s” setting up of a plan for an individual for a good cause. So in this movie, the “Chairman” has written a foolproof plan for David Norris to win three senatorial elections and become the president of the USA. Unfortunately, David’s exercise of his strong free will messes up the plan of the Chairman. However, the Chairman uses all his power to keep David on the path. (Note that even the choice of a name for the main character echoes some parallel from the biblical tale of David and Goliath.)
Meanwhile, the plan includes David falling in love, and his love interest was supposed to just affect one important political speech that would turn around the people’s votes in favor of David. Unfortunately, David could not fall out of love, and never stopped thinking about the woman Elise. So he exerted all his might, even earning the sympathy of one of chairman’s hat-boys, to insist on his free will and thwart the PLAN. When he kissed Elise, the kiss of true and risked-all love, the Chairman decided to rewrite the plan. And so Elise and David could live happily ever after, hopefully, in line with the Chairman’s rewritten PLAN.
There has been a long-time debate between predestination and free will among theologians. These two theological truths seem to contradict each other. It is interesting to note that in the history of the world, before and after it was created, it is God who has always adjusted HIS PLAN. In the garden of Eden God created man to have dominion over all other creation. Man and woman were created in His image, full of understanding (read-unconfused).
Did God give man free will? Or did He say “Do not eat from the fruit of knowing good or evil” because if they did eat it, the consequence is that they would have free will, and then they would find it more difficult to accomplish anything according to plan? That is, instead of them, walking along God’s path and enjoying the full blessings in His garden, hearing Him, and walking the garden unafraid, they would be filled with conflicting thoughts and emotions that could yield evil, that could give birth to guilt, that could make them hide from God? Or they would be making choices that would diminish their potential as God has equipped them? But this is saying we could take free-will as either a gift or a curse.
The choices we make every day of our lives are so much that sometimes, we are incapacitated by them. Walking the “intended’ path is not anymore a factor, because we’ve lost our sense of direction since the fall. Today we deal with a thousand crossroads. Even choosing what to eat in a fast-food restaurant using the menu before us takes plenty of time. We have long rationalized that this is really what makes life exciting. Maybe this is also what makes free will a gift. So we have intentionally or unintentionally foiled God’s PLAN for our lives. Instead, we insist on being “us”; we pretend to know the way; we fight for how we wanted to live our lives; we take pride in the chances we take.
God’s promise to those who will follow HIM is eternal life. In an eternal life, there won’t be any need for “adjustments.” Once we decide to follow God while in this knot of God’s eternal time, God helps us to understand that all can’t be governed by free-will, but His word explicitly says that we are to live “by faith”. The risks we will take will be risks to please God, and not anymore risks that will please ourselves.
Yet following God requires more than an adjustment bureau. As in The Adjustment Bureau, we enter one door, and we end up disoriented. But if that is what it takes for us to fulfill “OUR OWN” plans, we don’t take a minute to say yes to our desires, wear His hat, and make ourselves “happy.” We prefer to be surprised and disoriented, given our impulses, rather than ensconced in a safe clear-cut destination.
Happily, God is not the chairman of an adjustment bureau. Happily He lets us suffer the consequences of our choices. Happily, all he wants is for us to have REAL and LASTING happiness. That void within us can only be filled with God HIMSELF. When we realize that we’ve been running away too long, He is never too far away to hold us when we ran back to him.