A few days ago, I had a conversation with a friend. Instead of explicitly divulging every detail, I will instead offer a rundown. Lately, I have been in a funk. Many great opportunities have come my way (including writing for Christian Pig, “What Up?” *exuberantly throws up hand for high five*), as well as opportunities for ministry. Brand new things are awaiting my response. I tell this friend of my predicament. Although incredibly supportive, for which I am incredibly grateful and indebted, they uttered a phrase that burrowed its way under my skin. This individual said, “If it’s in God’s plan for your life, it will happen.”
Now, the phrase in itself is no cause for uproar; however, it left me thinking, why do we fool ourselves into lame attempts at understanding the plan of God? I find myself at the mercy of this phrase when I am at a loss of direction, often in these “valley” times, offering some comfort to myself that whatever it is I am going through God had planned when time was but an inkling of a notion. When we attempt to perceive “God’s plan,” we neglect God’s character, see ourselves out of context, and render God’s sovereignty nullified.
When this dear friend, who is just the latest example and by no means the brunt of this argument, offered their kindness, they had no intention of setting-off this tangent. Although, such a multitude of people use the phrase willy-nilly that I fear people confuse its implications.
When this phrase is invoked, people mostly desire to extend glad tidings. Contrary, though, is their understanding of God’s character. God, in His operating of the universe, has a lot going on, I understand. This phrase plays on the intimacy and closeness of God, which I also understand. What most of us mistake is the fullness of who God truly is. He wills and commands at His own bidding. Our futile attempts to understand His depth and gravity fall embarrassingly short of His reality. The notion of “God’s plan” simply skims the top of the buttermilk from the cream. The scripture in Isaiah 55:8-9 holds up, God thinks and acts on such a higher level than we do, and so much so that it surpasses the concept that there is a set plan. His character is that of mercy and kindness, but goes far into realms we have neither the questions nor the answers in which to figure those out. God’s character overwhelms us and our knowledge of the world and His world.
Often, when people talk about this impression that God has a plan, they implore the words of Jeremiah. I assume you have all graduated High school and have inevitably at least three Bibles on your bookshelf with that verse highlighted, or you heard it just before graduating. Jeremiah 29:11 is what I am referring to, if you are confused.
Most readings of the verse take out of context the other millions of people going about their business in the world. For instance, the Greeks, Romans, Indians, and Native Americans were all gaining their start at around this time. God’s plan for our lives takes on the ambition of everyone else’s lives as well. Most people, when quoting and recalling this sentiment, take on the self-centered ideology that is so rampant in our culture, while I concede not all suffer from this. The “plan of God,” if it did exist, transcends race, culture, and our own two eyes to see it unfold. As aforementioned, God’s character exists at such a frequency, our minds fail at comprehending His wavelength. “God’s plan” exists in a capacity we cannot know, multiply that times seven billion, and you would begin to understand that it works for every person, not merely to the boundary lines of our individual lives.
This concept of “God’s plan” takes on new meaning when we factor in God’s innate sovereignty. Remembering that by Him, through him, and in Him all things exist will allow for our understanding of this “plan” to take on new meaning. It is the third dimension, if you will. One must not forget that God does things for the unfolding of His glory and not for our benefit; while, the revealing of God’s glory is our benefit. Also note, things that happen on opposite sides of the globe like the violence ensued by so-called ISIS, the rabble they are, has ripples that come to fruition in our experiences. The acts passed by states across the country have ties to what goes on for us. What God allows in courts in Great Britain plays into us. John Locke said we are the sum of our experiences. God allows not only our experiences but also of those surrounding us to change us, He is that sovereign. No event in human history has happened without God’s ordination; God is sovereign in ways we have no means of comprehending currently.
When we start isolating “God’s plan” for our lives as pertaining solely to us, we neglect God’s ultimate steering of the ship He created, whose masts He personally designed, whose rudders He set, and whose decks He alone inlaid. “God’s plan” for our lives might look more like “God’s plan” for all of us in contrast to “God’s plan” for my life or yours. Everything is interrelated. A full, true Gospel understanding should consider this as the crux of Jesus. Jesus came not just for me, nor just for you, and while if we were alone remaining on Earth He still would have died, He died for the fulfillment of God’s glory. So, “God’s plan” can only be grappled with when we remember God’s character, our place in His universe, and His intrinsic sovereignty.