Does God have a plan for me?

The way most people understand this question, I think I have to say “No.” When we think of plans, we think of detailed blueprints for building or carefully orchestrated actions by a tactical squad. We want to think God has every second of our life planned out so that everything leads to the best possible outcomes. This allows us to absolve ourselves of the consequences of choices we made of our own free will. We want to claim the right to choose and also claim the right to blame God for negative outcomes or the right to expect God to rescue us for our own actions. We might even look at the injustices done to others and claim that they are simply part of God’s plan for them.

If by “plan” we mean a vision, a desired outcome or a will for our lives, then the answer is “yes.” Life is to be lived without scapegoats, whipping boys or double predestination. How our lives can be lived without these things, human society has not figured out yet. That does not mean the ultimate desire of God for all humanity is not good.

Like so many traditional doctrines, the idea that God has a plan for our lives has a benefit for us. We can be sure we are loved. It can also be misused. When the Israelites left Egypt and drove out Canaanites, it was declared to be God’s plan to bless the Israelites and condemn others. When Assyria and Babylon destroyed the nations of Israel and Judah, it was part of God’s plan to chastise them. Historians always interpret God’s plan in hindsight.

Hindsight is bad enough. Trying to claim foresight can be worse. The Crusades and colonialism were claims to know the will of God no matter how it affected other people. The basic problem is usually that the god who supposedly gave this vision is not a God of love and justice. Injustice is never God’s detailed plan for anyone.