I’m comparing the tired cliche’ of “God has a plan…” (singular) vs. Jeremiah 29:11 God has “…plans…” (multiple).
I think the distinction is very clear and extremely important.
Personally, my natural mindset is bent towards the singular. I think it has as much to do with my personality as it does my indoctrination to a specific theology that God has one right way to do things. Questions like…
- What job should I take?
- Who should I date?
- Where should I live?
- When should I call?
All cause me to spend WAY too much time thinking. I toss and turn over which decision best represents my feelings and faith towards the God almighty (I lose sleep, I don’t eat, I lock my mind away from the world).
But that is what happens to me. If I make the right choice… God will be happy and I will prosper. If I make the wrong choice… God will not be happy and I will suffer because of it (or just not prosper as much and we all want to be as happy as possible, right?).
That’s a bad thought process. AND a wrong one. That thought process limits God. As if God could not make me prosper anywhere else than Houston, or St. Louis, or Beijing, or Rio de Janiero, etc. And I could not prosper without this girl, or that one, or the one over there! Or that I REALLY won’t do any good or learn anything if I teach in that school versus this one.
This is where I find myself fighting my natural inclination and agreeing with Greg Boyd on his view of Open Theism (the belief that God does not know which choice we will make).
If God doesn’t know which choice we will make, he must prepare to work good in all situations.
I believe that I serve the God of POSSIBILITY. A God that desires to partner with us as we develop our own self-consciousness, rather than stand in opposition to our foolishness (think of the difference between helping solve a problem and telling you there is a problem).
In the book The Shack the God character is quoted as saying,
“Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about me.”
God is not a math problem. Even when negatives are part of the equation, the answer is always positive.
Bad things don’t happen because we make wrong decisions. Bad things happen because bad things happen; but when they do we have the comfort of knowing God has a plan (for EXACTLY that situation) to somewhere, somehow work good in our lives. We must not worry about getting off THE plan, we should be working to discover God’s NEW plans for good.