A woman from Australia called recently with a question. "I don't believe God knows everything that goes on in my life," she said, "but are there things that are predestined to happen? Is there a specific plan for my life?"
We seem to feel intuitively that life is more than random events. And most of us want to believe that there's a benign, higher power directing things. But how does it work? Does an all-seeing God govern everything like a giant air-traffic controller? The Australian caller and I agreed that there is an order in the universe and that God is the source of it.
How we reason about spiritual questions depends largely on how we conceive of God. The Bible offers this insight: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17). The fact that God is perfect and good, and that His creation is entirely spiritual, provides a starting point for understanding the plan for our lives.
One thing we can be certain of is that the creator is invariably good to all creation. That truth is a steady rock to stand on when you're trying to sort out your life. Anything not good - loneliness, fear, lack of self-worth - can't be from God. In fact, one of the deepest messages of the Bible is that evil isn't part of God's plan. Rather, evil is proved powerless and is overcome by trusting in God and striving, with God's help, to model our lives after His goodness.
Whatever the course of human events, God - infinite Spirit - is here to heal us and make us glad. God's gifts are like Him. They're spiritual. They can't be affected by changing material circumstances. For instance, one of the gifts we have from God is pure love for Him and for His creation. It's fundamental to our nature as God's sons and daughters. If we don't know what path to take in life, acknowledging our love for God and desiring to do His will inevitably lead to right decisions. Another gift we have from God is the ability to discern the difference between God's guidance and opposite impulses, such as fear.
Consider an experience my friend Matt had. While he was waiting to board a plane, the thought came to him strongly that he shouldn't. He brushed it aside and boarded.
The plane was delayed for a long time on the runway, and he kept feeling very forcefully that he should get off. He wondered if this was God's direction. He was afraid, but he was praying hard. It came to him that if there was danger on the plane, God wouldn't direct only him to get off. And God wouldn't direct him through fear. Matt felt he should stay with his fellow passengers and pray to see God's presence and absolute control. Eventually the plane took off, and the flight was late but safe.
Whether fears about your life seem justified or irrational, knowing that God is good helps you reason clearly and overcome those fears. God isn't planning a particular human career path, relationship, or place you should live. Yet God's plan does include a continuous awareness of goodness and love, and trusting this enables you to recognize the path in life that is most in line with God's law of blessing and progress for everyone. The Monitor's founder, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: "What a glorious inheritance is given to us through the understanding of omnipresent Love! More we cannot ask: more we do not want: more we cannot have. This sweet assurance is the 'Peace, be still' to all human fears, to suffering of every sort" ("Miscellaneous Writings," pg. 307).
The plan for your life affirms health, satisfaction, love, and freedom from fear. It also provides the God-given ability to overcome any interference with these.
And I will bring the blind by
a way that they knew not;
I will lead them in paths
that they have not known:
I will make darkness light
before them, and crooked
things straight. These things
will I do unto them, and
not forsake them.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society