I heard a preacher on Radio Rhema this week who said something along these lines
God will clearly reveal his will for every decision in your life. For God has a plan for every area of your life and he wants to reveal that to you.
Really? God had it planned that I would marry Sandy in 1987, move to Newcastle in 1995, and go to work for Baptist World Aid in 2005? Did God also plan that I would prang my car in 1986 and get a flat battery while out fishing on Lake Macquarie earlier this year? Or was I not attentive enough to his will on some of these? And what if I missed his plan for my life in some area? Am I now on Plan B,C, or Z?
Apart from the fact that I can’t find anywhere in the teaching of Jesus or the Bible to suggest that God has a plan for every area of my life, the notion seems to me to keep us in a permanent state of immaturity. Part of being human is to be both free to make decisions and accountable for those decisions. To keep on running to God and asking him to make the decisions for us is surely to shirk our responsibility.
This was driven home to me very early on in my adulthood when I was invited to be the youth pastor at my home church and another church. Both were good options. Sandy and I prayed, believing as the preacher on the radio had said, that God surely had a plan for us, wanted to make it clear to us which church to serve in. We prayed and listened. Silence. God said nothing.
As the days passed and we heard nothing from God it dawned on me that maybe God was happy for Sandy and I to make the decision for ourselves, that whether we went to one church or the other he would use us to help young people, that in the end it didn’t really matter which church we chose.
Now don’t get me wrong. There are times where God may provide very clear direction to us. But these seem to me to be the exception to the rule. The rule seems to be that God wants us to make decisions for ourselves. He has provided us with the values and priorities that should shape and inform our decision making – he calls me to “seek first the kingdom of God”, to prioritise love for God and neighbour, and to cultivate the graces of Jesus in my character. These things will be critical to why I choose the way I do, but the decisions are normally mine to make.
At first, this was a little scary. It’s much simpler if I can abdicate decision making responsibility to God. But I have found that being responsible is in reality, tremendously liberating. I’m not stuck in plan B, C or Z. The only plan is that the kingdom of God is realised, that I grow more like Jesus, that I love God and my neighbour. And that can be done any time, any place, any circumstance. It can be done whatever has come before and whatever will come after. And it’s what I’ll do my fumbling best to do.