Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Or Maybe It's a Planned Crapshoot?
"Do you ever feel like life is a crap shoot? A roll of the dice? That no matter what, sometimes you are just going to roll snake eyes? Or are you confident that God - or some higher power- has a plan for you, that things will work out?" An old friend of mine asked those questions on Facebook the other day as she was preparing a sermon and it got me to thinking. Is the #NarrowRoad a preordained path, laid out by God for us to discover, or is it all random and fluid? Which do I believe? Or perhaps...just maybe...life is a planned crapshoot! Let's explore!
When I was younger- and perhaps this is still happening and I just don't see them anymore- it was popular in some circles for church folk to hand out these things called tracts. These were tiny little pamphlets filled with spiritual information given with the purpose of helping to redeem lost souls in the name of Jesus. It seems to me that every time I encountered someone passing out these tracts they would give the same greeting. It was always, "God loves you and has a plan for your life." It seemed straightforward and simple enough until I really began to think about it. So much depends on what you mean by PLAN. Reading those little nuggets of spiritual wisdom often led one to believe that PLAN meant that if you surrendered to Jesus then God would take over from there. You'd be on easy street. The #NarrowRoad would be all yours to travel with no bumps, no detours and no wrecks. God's plan would always prevail if you only had enough faith. Pray about every decision and God would give you answer- and a can't miss answer at that. It all sounds so perfect.
But then I take a look a the scriptures and remember that the PLAN of God never works that way for the heroes of the Bible. God had hold of David's heart as a boy and was with him as he killed Goliath, but was it really God's plan for David to commit adultery and send Uriah to his death even while being "a man after God's own heart?" Seems unlikely. The disciples walked around with Jesus for 3 years, hearing him teach and watching him heal, and they would eventually be used by the Messiah to start the church and change the world. But most of the time they had no idea what they were doing the next day, much less what God's PLAN was for the rest of their lives! And do we really think that it was God's PLAN for Paul to suffer so much as he shared the good news with the world? Starting with the very first humans we were given free will and have used that free will to make terrible choices and good ones. If by God's Plan someone means that God will prevent us from doing wrong, will stop us from taking detours and will keep us on the #NarrowRoad, then they are reading a very different Bible than I am.
However...having said all of that, I do believe that God is in control. He will never leave nor forsake us. There are things God wants us to accomplish, directions we are pushed in if we place our faith, hope and trust in Jesus. There was a plan for saving the world, and the plan was sending Jesus. There is a plan for loving the world, and that plan is us. So God has a plan for us. But for too many people the word PLAN implies something organized and orderly. Life is chaotic. Life lived with Jesus might be even more chaotic! We are called to step outside our comfort zones, take risks and be bold. We are not called to an easier life; we are called to an ABUNDANT life (John 10:10)! Our God is a God of love and mercy. The gift of grace, at its very core, means not getting what we deserve. But the flip side is also true. Sometimes we get what we don't deserve. It seems far outside the nature of our God that He would choose who gets cancer; that God would choose who dies in car wrecks; that God would choose whose babies will die at birth or which countries would suffer epidemics. There is a randomness to life, even with God in control, because we very fallible and fragile humans have been given free will. I believe in the power of prayer and that God can and does alter our lives and the lives of others through divine intervention. But not always. Sometimes the answer to our prayers is "no." So bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people, and life on the #NarrowRoad continues to be unpredictable- no matter how much faith we have.
So my final thoughts on the original questions? God is in control, but God is not a puppet master pulling all the strings. We choose our paths, and those paths may be the #NarrowRoad- or they may not be. So I'm sticking with my answer. God has a plan for our lives. And that plan is often a crapshoot.
Because of Jesus,