… for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose. Philippians 2:13 (NIV)
There has been debate in the church over the years as to whether God has a specific plan for the individual Christian’s life, or whether he only has a master plan in mind into which individual Christians should fit.
I don’t intend to add to that debate, but only to state where I stand on this matter. Christians often ask ‘Does God have a plan for my life?’ I don’t think I’ve ever questioned that God does, but like everyone else I’ve sometimes struggled with finding out what God’s specific will is for my life.
In Romans 15:4 it says: For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
So what examples do we see in Scripture that could give us insight into this issue? Let’s look at only three examples, Isaiah and Jeremiah from the Old Testament and Paul from the New Testament:
- In Isaiah 49:1 it is stated: Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name;
- In Jeremiah 1:5 it says: The word of the Lord came to me, saying, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations;
- Paul states in Galatians 1:15: But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles … and in 1 Timothy 2:7: And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle – I am telling the truth, I am not lying – and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.
These are only three examples of people who knew God had called them for a specific purpose, that he had a plan for their lives. Their individual plan was part of God’s overall plan, yet their excitement was twofold, firstly that they could be part of God’s overall plan and secondly, that despite their inadequacies and weaknesses God had chosen them before time began to fulfil their part. There are plently of other examples throughout the Bible, including – Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Mary, John the Baptist, the list is long and compelling.
We have to recognise that when seeking God’s will some people will wait for it eagerly, while others seem to be paralysed by indecision, afraid to move forward in case they are outside of God’s will. Some years ago a book was written entitled, Just Do Something (by Kevin DeYoung) which encouraged Christians to get on with life, rather than being paralysed by inaction waiting for God’s will to be revealed. This book proved helpful to many.
Do I believe God knew what career I would follow? who I would marry? where I would live? together with a myriad of other things about my life? I have to state absolutely, Yes!
I have spent my Christian life with an excitement that seeks to know God’s specific will, desirous to fulfil his plan for my life. I recognise that God’s plan for my life does not take precedence over his overall plan for mankind, but it is certainly knit inextricably into it. For me the question would not be ‘Does God have a plan for my life?’, but rather ‘Does God not have a plan for my life?’
I’m sorry if I’ve added to the debate in any way, but feel free to share your thoughts on the matter.
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