Many Christians like to say that God is in control, that he has a plan for your life, and that everything that happens is part of the plan. Some will tell you he arranges the events of each day for us, including the trials. When you hear such talk, do you feel relieved at the thought God has every minute planned out for you, or do you chafe at the idea, like I do?
I certainly believe everything is ultimately under God’s control, but I have a problem with the notion that he micromanages our lives. Has he given us free will or not? Are our choices real, or not?
I think the answer might be in the Trinitarian relationship of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They do what they do together. Jesus said the Father, living in him, did his work through him (John 14:10). It’s all about participation: the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit—together.
Jesus called us friends (John 15:15), and what do friends do? They participate in a relationship together. Friendship isn’t about controlling each other or forcing each other into some prearranged plan. It’s about love, freely given and freely accepted. It’s about sharing experiences, being together in good times and bad, enjoying, appreciating and helping each other.
Friendship with God is even more that way. God isn’t just a friend, of course, he’s the sovereign Lord of the universe who loves us unconditionally, and as such, a relationship with him is even more real than the one I have with my human friends. Jesus brings us, through the Spirit, into his own relationship of love with the Father. I get to participate because God loves me and not because of anything I did to deserve it.
With that in mind, I can envision an overarching plan for my life—salvation, life in Christ, knowing God in and through the Spirit, and eventually life forever in God’s eternity. But I don’t discount God working in the little things in my life, either. I see his hand every day, from the way he encourages me and reminds me of his love, to the way he guides and protects me. Because he lives in me, we go through life hand in hand, so to speak, and each day my prayer is that I will listen to the Spirit and respond to him as he leads me.
Did he provide the parking place I got at the store or arrange for me to break a glass and cut my foot? I doubt it. I’m pretty sure God doesn’t micromanage every detail of my life. I think he can work with whatever happens and bring it around to his good purposes for me. But this I know for sure: he leads me, guides me and is always with me and reminds me of his presence throughout each day.
Tammy Tkach, 2011