Like many of you, I have a bit more time on my hands. So, I asked friends on Facebook to provide blog topics. This one is for my Jeff Leinenkugel…who asked, “Why do some people really believe that “God has a plan?”
First, let me deal with the other questions Jeff asked:
What is OPS+ and why does it matter? Is WHIP the best pitching statistic? OPS+ is a baseball statistic that takes on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and then normalizes it across all players and factors in various ballparks and such. To me, it doesn’t matter. Give me Bill James’ 2002 Runs Created statistic as determining the offensive quality of a baseball player. The object of the game is to score runs, so wouldn’t a player who scored/created runs be most valuable? Too much to explain in this forum, but you can find all you want about Runs Created here. And, yes, WHIP (walks+hits divided by innings pitched) is the best pitching stat.
Are the Sex Pistols really more influential than the Ramones? Overall, no. They really only had one album and certainly contributed to the political angst and rage and fashion of punk so in some ways they were game-changers. But the Ramones’ unique playing style (all downstrokes) and the really, really good musical hooks–just played really, really fast–not to mention longevity, well, there’s a reason that their music is now hawking everything from cars to sodas to cruises to GenXers.
If there was an “all time” American Idol style show, would Freddy Mercury beat out Axel Rose in the finals? Axl Rose would never make the final. The final would be Freddy Mercury against Aretha Franklin. Give me Aretha.
But here’s the biggest question:
Why do some people really believe that “God has a plan?”
I’ll start with an anecdote: Long ago I was in a youth ministry job interview where I was in a room about 20 people from all aspects of the church and it wasn’t very organized. Questions from theology to parenting to media choices were coming from all directions and I started getting mentally tired after about an hour. The last question came from a parent who asked, “If we were to offer you the job how would you know it’s God’s will for you to accept it?”
Wow. Just. Wow.
Like I said, I was beginning to get a bit irritable and didn’t feel like diving into the multi-layered discussion of knowing God’s will or the inevitable worms that would emerge from that can…and that’s similar to how I feel here.
I’ll let you know my answer to her question more toward the end…but Jeff’s question presumes a few things. First, that there is a God. This requires my assumption regarding which concept of God one is talking about…which I’m guessing is the Texas Bible Belt Christian one, so that’s the one I’ll roll with.
(This question isn’t really limited to those who believe in a god. Atheists and agnostics will say things like “the universe will spin something positive out of this.” Just wanted to note that here.)
This also presumes an understanding of the Bible, which for purposes here I’ll mention that there are several sections of the New Testament alluding to people being “created for good works which God prepared beforehand” and being “predestined” according to God’s purposes. I could go quite a while on all this but since this is a blog post and some really intelligent book-writing Christians have been kicking those ideas around for roughly 2,000 years, it’s highly unlikely I’ll add anything meaningful to that discussion in this forum. I went all that way to suggest that there is evidence in the Bible for God having a plan.
That said, I think it’s important to discern what people mean when they say that phrase. Usually, it’s when something bad/negative has happened. Context matters. It could be an ill child, failure to get the job you wanted, an injury, a divorce, whatever. “God has a plan,” they say.
See, I think it’s a statement of faith and hope. Faith in that God is in this situation with them and they will “get through/over” the difficulty they face. Hope in that not only will they get over it, but they will be “better” for it…or grow in meaningful ways. I think that’s why most people say it. God has a plan, He will see me through this, and I’ll grow from the experience.
The reality for me is that I agree that God has a plan. That comes easy for me. The difficulty is in figuring out that plan when it isn’t laid out clearly in the Bible. So, for example, I don’t have to discern if drunkenness is God’s plan for my life…clearly from the Bible, it isn’t. There’s lots of easy ones.
The difficulty is when you have to figure out something that isn’t clear: Will my son get better? What is God trying to teach me in quarantine? Why did my spouse leave me? On and on, right?
Back to the answer I gave the nice lady who wanted to know how I would know if God’s plan was to take the job.
I told her I noticed her wedding ring. I asked her, “How did you know that it was God’s plan for you to marry your spouse?” She thought about it and said, “Well, I prayed about it and I loved him and he loved me and we both felt God leading us to get married.”
“Great,” I responded. “But he could’ve left you at the altar, right? When did you KNOW?”
“Well, I guess after we said our vows and kissed.”
And that’s how I answered. I wouldn’t know God’s plan until after I moved and became part of their church. Everything up to that was an educated guess–meaning presumption I was following God’s leading by prayer, consultation with other believers, etc.–on my part of this plan God had for me & my life. I wouldn’t really know until after the fact.
So, I think people say “God has a plan” because it has basis in their sacred text and it’s a statement of faith and hope…
…yes, I got that job. Which was unquestionably formative in my faith and some of the best times in ministry I ever had. All part of God’s plan… 🙂