Recently, a few of us have been discussing an article about guidance written by Jill Carattini entitled, Running With Plan B. This has stimulated a lot of discussion and has prompted us to think more deeply about guidance. The following are some thoughts I’ve had about the article:
I like the emphasis that there isn’t a divine blueprint for one’s life and that it’s false to think if you make a ‘misstep’ you’ve screwed up God’s plan. That is very healthy and biblical. I also appreciate how she says that God works with us and that life is dynamic. I especially like that she points to Pascal’s message that our ultimate ‘destination’ and good is God Himself. I wish she elaborated further on that, because I think that is actually the most important point in the whole article.
Where I have difficulty is the inference that God has a specific, particular plan for each of us, rather than a general purpose with the particulars being worked out as we seek to apply gospel truths to our lives and labor to bring His love to others. The GPS example kind of gives the idea of a determined endpoint. I think she says something like this: God has a goal and plan for your life and He is able to re-route you to that goal even if you get side-tracked along the way. This metaphor implicitly implies that there is a destination or concrete outcome that God has for us. It leans too much toward the concept of fate and diminishes the creative responsibility of humans.
This can lead people to be uncritical about their life choices and assume that the direction they’ve taken and the circumstances they’re facing are somehow going to play into God’s ultimate plan for them. In effect, it leaves us passive in relation to our life’s direction and ultimately tempts us to put a good spin on just about any choice we make. It focusses the attention too narrowly on our own life.
Through the life of Christ, God has shown us a vision of humanity and life that we should emulate. What Jesus says about things is what is truly good. He, indeed, is the way, the truth, and the life. God’s ‘plan’ for us is to be fully human in happy communion with Him and others. This includes joining Him in the mission of bringing His truth and love to others, living a life of self-giving love.
In a sense, the ball is in our court to collaborate with God to undo the effects of selfishness and destruction and promote human flourishing wherever and whenever we can. This is a wide open opportunity, truly dependent on our own creative choice, that even God is anxious to see unfold. The normal way of being human is to make plenty of missteps and mistakes. That’s how we learn. These aren’t diversions off of some planned route. They’re part of the normal learning process God intends for us. During this process of learning we’re constantly trying to understand and make sense of reality (through reflection on the life of Christ) and make application of the truths we learn to promote blessing in the lives of people. This is God’s plan A. There is no plan B.