The following article was written by Renee Dugan, a full time staff member of Spirit & Truth Fellowship Int’l.

power to choose is considered by most to be an inherent human right—albeit addressed from differing positions depending on religious, political, and social customs, etc. But lately, I’ve had the feeling that with all the freedom we possess—especially those of us in a Western world where we have a multitude of choices for everything from our breakfast cereal to our college options to our tombstone materials—we forget just how important the freedom of choice actually is.

God Himself places so much emphasis on the beauty of choice—both in His actions toward us, and in His Word. Think about how many people both harmed and helped the cause of God’s people by the choices they made; kings and counsellors who walked with God or fell away all shaped history as we know it. Pious individuals and pagans made decisions that changed the face of life for those in their time as well as their descendants for generations after. Sure, God could’ve designed a universe where we were all slaves, bound by the laws of nature to serve Him; instead, He chose to give us free will, the chance to choose to love Him. Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross is made so much more powerful by the fact that he chose to endure that suffering; even while he was hanging by the nails in his hands, he could’ve called a battalion of angels to rescue him. But he chose to see it through to the end.

Rahab chose to hide the spies. Moses chose to go back to Egypt after he saw the burning bush. Peter chose to deny Christ. Saul chose to convert. Eve and Adam chose to eat of the fruit. The list goes on and on. Like these historical figures, we each become accountable for our actions the moment we choose to act. Rather than being puppets pulled on strings held by a bored Creator, we are individuals free to think and act however we see fit—sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. But thank God we have the choice—the choice to love Him, to seek Him, to hold fast to Him or reject Him. We can choose to accept Christ as the sacrifice for our sins, or we can choose to carry the weight of sin for ourselves when we one day stand before the Creator. No matter what we choose, thank God that all of humankind since the dawn of creation has had the choice. That He has loved us enough to allow us to be individuals—not caricatures fitting a particular style of “human”, but free-thinking, choosing people.

If only more people understood the precious freedom of choice that God gives us—and the intense need for that free will that exists in the hearts of humanity. And how God has honored and accommodated that need which He built into us. How much more praise would we give our Creator if we truly understood the depth of love that exists in Him, an Author who allows this story to play out to the twists and turns of our choices. As a writer who has been on a long journey of learning to let her characters be characters, not bland outlines fitting the checkboxes—and to make their choices, good and bad, that influence the story—I feel like I can still only glimpse an iota of God’s vision for us, the characters in the Greatest Story.

One thing’s for certain: when the characters are free to choose, there’s a fresh surprise waiting on every page.