You ask whether, with all these ways to go astray, if there is a reliable way to find God’s plan for your life. That’s an interesting question.
Possibly even more interesting is the question of whether God actually has a plan for your life.
Many assume that God does. Some will put that right at the heart of the Gospel message.
In college a couple of the Christians in my fraternity set out to share their faith with all the guys in the house using a little four-step tract. Step one was
God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
Many Christians hold tenaciously to the idea that God has very specific daily plans. People find it comforting, especially if their intuition or their sense of the Holy Spirit tends to nudge them toward good choices.
I think, though, that there are potential dangers to thinking of your relationship with God this way.
One danger is that it can make following Christ too much like walking a tightrope.
If God has a plan you have to get it right. There is one, and only one, path across the chasm. Find it and you are golden. One wrong step and all is lost.
A second danger is that it can keep us thinking like infants or children.
If my kids have to get my direct orders for everything they do, then something has gone wrong in my parenting.
Early on I give them lots of specific instructions. My plans include training them with basic life skills, and social skills too. I get pretty insistent about it.
But the real goal is for them to learn how to make their own good decisions.
There: I slipped into a different kind of language.
I do not have plans for my kids’ lives. I have goals.
That is, the details of their lives are not mine to plan. I don’t want to decide if or where they will attend university, or what they will do for a living, or other important things.
But I do have goals for them: I want for them to become wise and good, loving and kind, faithful and generous. I want them to learn to love God, follow Christ, and serve other people in God’s world. Any of that will make me a very proud papa.
What if the same applies with God?
A while back in one of these letters I quoted one of my favorite passages of Scripture:
we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (Ephesians 5:15 NRSV)
That is, we aren’t merely supposed to be born again. We are supposed to grow up again. We are supposed to grow up to live the kind of lives that make God proud. We are supposed to become like Jesus — who is after all
Christ … the wisdom of God. (1 Cor. 1:24 NRSV)
God is at least as good a father to you as I am to my children.
Instead of looking for God’s plan, maybe you should look for God’s audacious holy goal for your life.
So how will you find your way to a vocation that meets God’s goals for you?
- Maybe it includes thinking very carefully about how a line of work will will shape your character.
- Maybe it requires thinking hard about how that line of work will accomplish things God wants done.
If you are willing to share your thoughts about those questions I would absolutely love to hear.
And then I’ll share some other approaches to thinking about your calling that I think you’ll find useful.