Sunday, January 16, 2011

Does God Actually Have a Plan for Our Lives?

When my time in this world is over, I hope that I have the opportunity to ask God one question. Actually, I would like to ask many more than one, but if could ask only one it would be: Was there a plan for my life?

A good friend and I debate this frequently. I argue that God does, in fact, have a plan for each one of us, determined before we ever take our first breath. If we tune in (also known as prayer), we can tap into that plan and do what we were sent to this planet to accomplish. My friend is of the opinion that we are put on this earth and then it is up to us to use our free will to live our lives. What happens to us is a result of those decisions. We are in charge of our destiny.

I understand the opposing view point. After all, we do have free will (although I’ve never really understood the balance between our free will and God’s omniscience – that’s another question for the Almighty). We don’t want to be mere pawns in a supernatural chess game. In addition, saying that God has a plan can be seen as a cop-out or an opiate intended to bring comfort, especially in the face of great pain and tragedy in life. People grieving do not want to be told it is God’s will. How can such extreme suffering be part of God’s plan? What kind of a loving God is that?

Yet, in spite of all that, I do still believe that God has a plan for us. Scripture supports the idea. Perhaps the most-oft quoted passage is from Jeremiah, “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope.” (Jer 29:11) The Psalms also give evidence that God will guide our steps. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way should go; I will guide you with My eye.” (Psalm 32:8) “For this is God, our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.” (Psalm 48:14)

In fact, the whole of Scripture is the story of God’s plan for our salvation. All works for the good. God may not wish the sins and tragedies to happen, but He allows them to occur, and He is able to use them to achieve His purposes. God will not be thwarted.

A secondary reason that I believe God has a plan for each of us is that I have seen it in my own life. God’s plan is often only seen in retrospect, and I fully admit that I don’t understand all the various twists and turns my life has taken and continues to take. I’m pretty sure I got off the appointed path a few times. If God had a Plan A for my life, I think I’m now on Plan C or D.

But, even with all that, I can look back over my life and see God’s guidance at work. God hasn’t abandoned me, even when I sometimes feel as if He has. I’ve had second and third and fourth chances. The challenges in my life have each taught me lessons that have served me well as I have moved forward.

There have also been times I have been given glimpses of the future. People have made remarks to me, or I have dreamed dreams, that have been totally unexpected or out of context at the moment, yet years later, came to fruition. I think that has been one of the ways God has prepared me for the paths my life would take.

A last reason I am convinced that God has a plan for us is that so many things happen that are beyond our control. We tend to suffer from the illusion that we are in charge of our lives. Yes, we do get to make decisions, but life often throws us curveballs. The only decision we get to make is how we respond to them. Those “change in plans” often lead our lives in entirely new directions.

Does God actually have a plan for us? My answer is an unequivocal “yes.” I still hope, though, that God will explain it all to me someday. I’d like to know how it was all supposed to work out, where I made mistakes, where I made the right decisions, and the purpose of the hard times. I pray that one day I will understand.

2 comments:

seashore said...

Love reading your blog. That verse from Jeremiah is one of my favorites. Thanks

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur said...

Thank you!