I'm continually amazed at the number of people who argue with the idea that God has a detailed master plan that governs our lives. They picture God as passively watching and waiting for us to make our choices as free human agents and then adjusting His plan to fit our preferences.
Do we really believe God would surrender control of His creation to the whims of His creatures? Is it plausible that a universe so intricate in design is run by Someone whose motto is "The best ability is flexibility" when it come to planning?
My former pastor Dr. W.A. Criswell once observed:
Before a stone was laid in the construction of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, the idea was born in the mind of Sir Christopher Wren. He saw it in his mind and purposed it in his heart. Before he struck a chisel against the heavy rock marble, Michelangelo saw the mighty Moses in his mind and purposed it in his heart.... Why should it surprise us then that God, the designer and architect of the universe, should have a plan and purpose for His creation? The greater the project, the more necessary the plan.
God has a detailed plan for the universe that governs everything that happens in His creation. The apostle Paul described that plan when he wrote,
"Also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will" (Ephesians 1:11, emphasis added).
"All things" fall within God's intricate design for His creation. "All things" also encompasses everything that might affect your life.
Your circumstances. The decisions of governmental leaders (Proverbs 21:1), the outcome of the rolled dice in a Las Vegas casino (Proverbs 16:33), and the change of seasons (Daniel 2:21, NIV) are just some of the external circumstances that God directs. Obviously, each of these forces has the power to impact your life.
Your physical and emotional makeup. "All things" also includes the smallest details of your life. The color of your eyes, the number of hairs on your head, and even the bent of your emotions were all designed by God. The psalmist expressed that truth this way:
For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother's womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well (Psalm 139:13-14).
Your choices. God's design for your life not only includes those circumstances beyond your control but also those parts of your life that you assume are under your control. You may think you're in charge of how you spend your time, the route you drive to work, the items you purchase at the supermarket, or even whether you finish reading this book. But consider what the writer of Proverbs claims
Man's steps are ordained by the LORD,
How then can man understand his way? (Proverbs 20:24)
Every step we take has been planned by God? I agree with the writer that such a thought is beyond comprehension. Yet it only makes sense that God would exercise control over the most minute details of our lives if His overall plan is to be accomplished.
One Thursday afternoon a few years ago, I left work a few minutes early for a haircut. On the way to the barbershop, I passed through an intersection and within a few seconds heard a screeching of brakes. I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw the car behind me decimated by another vehicle running a red light. I pulled off to the side of the road and dialed 911, but it was too late.
The driver was dead.
Later that evening I couldn't help but reflect on what had happened. What if I'd left work only a few seconds later? What if the pressure I'd applied to the accelerator had been just a little bit lighter? What if the driver who ran the red light had been applying a little more pressure to his accelerator?
My life could have been snuffed out in an instant that day.
No, I'm not implying that God loved me more than He did the victim of the accident. What I am suggesting is that since the day of my birth and the day of my death are written on God's calendar, He must have a detailed plan that includes every aspect of my life, including my choices.
Your failures. If all your steps are directed by God, wouldn't that include your missteps and stumbles? That only makes sense. The story line of your life — already written by the Divine Author — includes all your choices, not just the good ones. Since the psalmist used our birth as an example of God's intricate plan for every aspect of our lives, let's continue using that analogy for a moment.
What if your conception was the result of the premarital liaison of two hormonally charged teenagers, an extramarital affair, or even a rape? Such conceptions occur every hour of every day.
After reading Psalm 139, could you really say your birth was an accident?
Somehow God was able to use the moral failure of others to accomplish His plan for you. If God can use other people's mistakes for good, why are we surprised that He can also use our mistakes to achieve His purpose? It's a mind-boggling thought! But one that offers hope to anyone who has failed.
In this month's series Second Chance, Second Act on Pathway To Victory radio and television (www.ptv.org), you can learn how to turn your biggest mistakes into new beginnings.
(Adapted from Second Chance, Second Act by Robert Jeffress, Waterbrook Press, 2007)