Not only does each human life have infinite worth to God and to other people in the grand scheme of things, but also each life has a unique mission for this world that is part of God’s overall plan for humanity. In Jeremiah 29:11, we are told, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This verse is referring to the plans that God has for each life to fit into His greater plan for humanity and for this particular era in history. God has a plan for every life, but these plans can only be enacted when we are walking in the center of His Will. This walk in His Will begins at the moment that we are saved by Jesus as we enter into a covenant with God that seals our salvation, seals our place in Heaven, and begins our mission to impact the world for the greater good in a life that is part of the greater tapestry that God has woven in His plan for all people. I believe this is what the Bible is referring to when it discusses “predestination.” God (Romans 8:29-30, Ephesians 1:4-6, Ephesians 1:10-12).
When I write that I believe these passages are referring to God’s intended plan for each of us and for our mission in this world, what I mean is that this is the interpretation that God has revealed to me. I may set off a firestorm of debate by saying this, but I am only writing from the truth that God has revealed to me. There has never been any pride in what I speak about God’s word. However, every time that I have tried to discuss this interpretation of predestination with certain people who have a prideful interpretation of this verse, the discussion always gets heated up with the other person getting angry at my interpretation. The people whom I am referring to are those that believe in Calvinist doctrine in which man is supposedly predestined from birth to either go to Heaven or to hell. This has never made sense to me because the God I have come to know and love always gives choices and always is gentle, never trying to outwit or outmaneuver me. He always comes to me as a loving, gentle, caring, compassionate Father. He does not try to force me into things with some sort of “irresistible will” which I cannot seem to find in the Bible.
Instead, God almost always uses enticement and encouragement. Romans 2:4 expresses God’s chosen method of love through a rhetorical question: “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). This verse reveals that the chosen method of God in most situations is His Goodness as He tries to bring us into the kingdom through His Loving Kindness. Yet, when it comes to our mortal souls and the choice between eternal reward in Heaven or eternal suffering in Hell, God will use any method necessary to bring us into the kingdom (Jude 22-23). But these verses are merely another form of enticement. There is no force involved. He always allows us free will, and that includes both the opportunity to choose Him and the opportunity to reject Him. Perhaps the best verse that illustrates this principle is Matthew 23:37 in which the Lord is speaking to the people of Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” In this verse, we see that it is possible to reject the will of God and that God does not force the situation to make us do what He wants.
There is no glory in force for God. If we choose Him freely after being convicted of our sin and brought to an understanding of the covenant relationship He offers through Jesus, however, then He gets ALL the glory. Of course God may resort to more forceful tactics in certain times when our wills and hearts are hardened, requiring Him to overpower us in order to continue to work His Will for the moment, for the people in that particular place, and for His greater plans for humanity. He had to be forceful with Jonah, but there was too much at stake with perhaps millions of people in rebellion to the point that God was going to have to punish them unless Jonah preached repentance to them. Also, He hardened Pharaoh’s heart in order that He would get an opportunity to show His tremendous power to both the Egyptians and to the Israelites (Exodus 9:12, Exodus 10:20, Exodus 10:27, and Exodus 11:10). Additionally, He may use more force on us, His spiritual children, when we are resistant. The Bible tells us in Revelation 3:19, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten….” (Also, Hebrews 12:6). But again, this is the exception as opposed to the rule. In fact, He would rather suffer Himself than make us suffer, which is why He went to the cross for us.
In the next week, I will more fully address the subject of free will and God’s predetermination of plans for us (plans which are enacted ONLY when we choose Him of our free will.). I didn’t really intend to get so deep in this subject today, but I felt like God was leading me to discuss it.
In returning to the topic of the abundant life, I just wanted to make two more points. The first point is that God wants us to have a full and satisfying life, but often our own fears are in the way. We are often reluctant to relinquish control over certain areas of our life because we fear what will happen when we let go. But over time, as we spend more time in daily fellowship with Him, as He builds more of His Spirit and His Wisdom into us, as we submit all things in our lives to His control, and as we grow in character through loving service to those around us, these fears are diminished and pushed out of our hearts gradually until one day, we will realize that we don’t have the fear anymore. This is what 1 John 4:18 is referring to: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” Fear robs us of the abundant life that God wants for us, but as He works on us over time, that fear leaves us, and we find that we have more and more joy walking in fellowship with Him.
The second point I wanted to make in order to finish with this topic is that God wants desperately to bless us and to give us all the deeper things that we desire in our heart. He is a very loving Father and wants to lavish us with gifts because He enjoys doing this and enjoys seeing our pleasure and our returned love to Him when we realize How greatly He cares about us, even loving us down to the most mundane details in our lives that are important to us. This is one of God’s greatest desires for us; He wants us to have the deepest desires of our hearts fulfilled. This is what Psalm 37:4 is referring to: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Also Psalm 20:4).
I pray that you will have a very blessed day and that His Love will shine richly in your life as He gives you the desires of your heart.