Lately I've been thinking a lot about plans.
'I'm just trying to figure out God's plan for my life.'
'Maybe the plan doesn't involve me getting married.'
'I'm not sure if this is part of God's plan for me.'
These are all things I have said myself at various times but lately I've been considering my idea of God's 'plan' for my life and how that impacts my behaviour and choices.
Personally I find it makes me pretty passive. If it's in the 'plan', God will make it happen.
It means I don't really have to take much responsibility for making decisions or taking action.
It stops me getting excited about things because I over spiritualise them - 'this seems great but is it in the 'plan'?!'
And it negates any sad feelings I might have about things not working out because I can to conclude 'it wasn't part of the 'plan''.
I think it's also warped my conception of God a little. To think he's this giant puppeteer with an unknown path mapped out for us where we have to read clues and signals to try and navigate to stay on the right track.
Plus if we don't like the 'plan' we just have to put up with it because we know its for our own good.
I'm beginning to think this idea of 'the plan' isn't the most helpful way for me to view my life and my future.
As single people, the story of Ruth is often held up as an example of someone who was faithful, stuck to the 'plan' and God provided her with a husband.
However - I'm not sure Ruth had this same conception that God had this mysterious 'plan' for her life. Yes she was super faithful. She didn't ditch her mother-in-law, she worked hard and was obedient. But both women in this story are super proactive. They're not hanging around wondering what to do next, waiting for the tide to turn. They are proactive about their relationship with Boaz. In fact they're pretty strategic about it - read Ruth 3 if you want to see some higher level man trapping!
I'm not saying that God doesn't make things happen or guide us in certain directions - but I think this process is more complicated than a rigid 'plan'.
I prefer Rob Bell's model where he describes us as co-creators in the world (read How to Be Here for more on being a creator.)
We co-create our lives with God.
He loves to create.
He loves to see new things grow out of nothing.
We are made in his image and so this is how we also function.
We create relationships by the way we commit time and effort to building them.
We create family by the people we draw around us, the traditions we begin, the priorities we commit to.
We create projects, ministries, art work, music.
Far from being passive, this is an exciting invitation to step up and be proactive.
Last week at work I was teaching an infant class to plan and create models of dinosaurs. They drew some pictures to plan what they were going to do and the next week we made a massive mess with glue, tape, old boxes and Pringle tubes.
Not many of them stuck to their original plans but the best part of it was working together to create something. Sometimes they'd ask for help with a tricky bit, sometimes they'd have a go after I'd shown them how, sometimes they'd have their own idea and give it a try. I loved watching them, being a part of it and building relationships by creating together.
Far from the invisible puppeteer with the unknown path mapped out - doesn't that sound a bit more like the God we know?
So for me this week - I'm going to try to be less concerned about 'the plan'. I'm going to be a creator - like my Father God.
I'm going to get stuck in to creating my life as he inspires me and surrounds me with his grace and love - to create something beautiful - even if it doesn't turn out as I'd expected.