In Christ “all things hold together,” says Paul (Col 1:17). In other words, God “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb 1:3). More specifically, “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Minimally, they mean that God is not a the first finger that pushes dominoes over on their side, causing a sequence of fallen dominoes. He is not the cosmic clockmaker. He does not leave creation alone.
The way in which God is First Cause, if we are allowed to use that turn off phrase, is specifically that he always, continually, sustains the created order. Every effect simultaneously has its existence because God sustains its existence.
No created thing could do this. So it’s obvious that the way God holds all together is different, of a different order than we do. His primary (so-called) causality does not conflict then without creaturely freedom (secondary causality). They simply work at completely different levels—Creator and creature.
This is why it is completely wrong to thing that if God is the First Cause of all things, then somehow we do not have creaturely freedom. If God is indeed timeless as the Bible teaches, then he in some eternally present way sustains all effects at once, whether past, present, of future.
Our choices in life simply work at level different than God’s. We cannot understand it. But we confess:
“In him we live and move and have our being.”