:God has a Plan: Plans and goals 2

September 20, 2014

In my previous post, I wrote that while I don’t think God has “a plan”, I do think God has a goal and a purpose for creation. I think my main difficulty with the idea that “God has a plan” is that the phrase is often used to try and take the pain away from difficult situations. “God has a plan” offered as support can end up denying the person’s disappointment or their suffering.

You didn’t get the job? God has a plan–> so don’t feel badly. This wasn’t actually a disappointment.

Your heart is broken? God has a plan–> Don’t be sad.

Implicit in the statement is the idea, spoken or unspoken, that God has something better in store for you.

If we are not careful, “God has a plan” can turn into a mindset that doesn’t allow for us to experience our emotions of sadness or disappointment or heartbreak. It can also encourage a kind of fatalism. I’ll get the job if God wants me to have it and I don’t have too much input into it.

On the other hand, I don’t want to suggest that God is uninvolved in our lives. There is a middle ground between the micro-manager of the universe and the uninvolved, distant deity. Of course it is not possible to fully understand and explain how God is at work in the world. But (you knew a “but” was coming) that doesn’t mean we can’t try to understand a little bit.

It seems to me that God is as involved as we invite God to be. We can acknowledge God’s activity in the world in a general way and perhaps we won’t “bother” God with our small issues. We’ll deal with getting a good parking place, or good grades on our own. We’ll pray, maybe, for world peace or a sick friend. But some things really aren’t worth bothering God about.  Others of us pray about everything. The weather, the game, our drive to work. We ask for God’s help for all of it. All of it matters to God and is controlled by God.

Both of those perspectives have their problems and their strengths. The Bible tells us God cares about small things, the lost coin, the lost pearl, the lost lamb, the sparrow. However, if God controls all those small things, do we have any choice in what happens to us? If God controls it all, there doesn’t seem to be much point to praying. Unless we can change God’s mind and then perhaps God isn’t in control as much as we thought. It gets confusing quickly.

The clearer way is to shift the focus off of us- my grades, my parking place, my lost coin- and to focus on God. Not God come fix my life, but rather, God help me live into your life.  “Your will be done…” That seems to be the main thing the mystics are trying to tell us. Look for where God is. Look for where we can glimpse God at work, where we can sense God’s presence. Try to be aware and in step with God.

We all want the world to revolve around us. Let’s be honest, It really should be all about me! But its not. Its actually all about God. And God manages to not be self centered, pushy or grabby about it. God’s “all about me” is about God pouring God’s self out for us. This is confusing at first also. God’s all about me is for others. This goes along with those other odd statements of Jesus. If you save your life you lose it and if you lose your life you save it. Blessed are the poor. Love your enemies. Bless those who curse you.

That’s why we get lost and confused when we talk about God’s plan. God’s plan is so odd to us, so completely not human that we have trouble with it. I think we ought to be careful when we think we know God’s plan in any sort of detail. And I think we should be very careful telling others what we think God’s plan is for them.

I’d like to know, what do you think?

Plans and Goals

September 7, 2014

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  (Heb 11:1 NRSV)

The older I get, the less sure I am that, as they say, “God has a plan”. I am convinced God has a goal and a purpose. I do believe there is a point to all this. Thanks to Isaiah (among others), I even think I might have a glimmer of an idea what that goal is.

In days to come

the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it,
2   and many nations shall come and say:
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
3 He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more;
4 but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees,
and no one shall make them afraid;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.  Micah

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.   Isaiah 11:6-9

No sickness

No hunger

No fear

No sorrow

No death

Beyond that I don’t know. Honestly I can’t imagine a world with those five “no”s. Even at my most imaginative I can’t imagine and yet, yet I have faith that a better reality will exist.

But a plan? I don’t know. I don’t see a plan, at least not a plan in the typical way we think about a plan- a series of ordered steps designed to achieve a goal. I don’t see a plan that makes much sense.

Plans are about control. We make a plan to try to affect and control our lives.  God, it seems to me, isn’t interested in control. Although God does seem to be very interested in the outcome.

I remember when I was younger how much I wanted to know- what does the future hold? Will things be okay?

At some point I realized that there are no guarantees for this life.  I was not happy to learn this.

 Never the less, I do think Julian of Norwich is correct.

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”

All shall be well, not because God controls everything with a precise plan. All shall be well because God has a goal. And we are invited to be part of that goal, God’s future.


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