Proverbs 16:9 The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps
If there are two things that have cut me loose from a 500 lb. boulder and sent me flying in the clouds with joy, it is my recent discovery of what the Bible teaches about free will and God's sovereignty!
You see, all my life, I've thought God was sort of in the "damage control" business. He gives instructions, and I either follow them and everything goes great, or I do my own thing and mess up The Plan (much of my life experience!). Add to that, there are all these other people around me not following The Good Plan either, and they are messing up my life too, right? Whether my choices, or the choices of people around me, my life is at the mercy of people and their sinful choices, and God has to come in and clean up as best He can under the circumstances. Ultimately, He has to allow me to make my choices, so what else can He do? This is all what I used to believe at some level in my heart.
But finally, I have been illuminated through many Scriptures, both directly as well as how God worked in and through history and people's lives, and I have been solidly convinced that free will, as far as messing up any of God's plans, is a fallacy and not a Biblical teaching. Sure, God does give us a certain measure of free will, but only in the way we are able to respond to the circumstances of life (not create them). It's sort of like a chess game. He moves first, we respond. But He is always in the driver's seat working out His perfect strategy. This is a good and trustworthy thing when you start from the premise that God is only GOOD, which He is!
Here's the simple truth that has revolutionized my life with perfect peace. God's sovereign will and plan cannot be stopped or changed, neither for my life, nor for His unfolding plan of history (His-Story). Really, this is so biblical! Check it out (and these are a very few of the many examples)…
Man's goings are of the Lord. Proverbs 20:24
The King's heart is in the hands of the Lord, He turns it wherever He desires. Proverbs 21:1
My counsel shall stand, and I will do ALL MY DESIRE. Isaiah 46:10
You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Ps. 139:5
Take a real life example. In Isaiah 10, the King of Assyria is bragging about how he had ransacked Jerusalem. He says, "By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this, For I have understanding; And I removed the boundaries of the peoples And plundered their treasures, And like a mighty man I brought down their inhabitants" (verse 13). How does God respond?
"Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it? Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it? That would be like a club wielding those who lift it, Or like a rod lifting him who is not wood" (verse 15).
I don't have it all figured out, but I do know this: God's plan has unfolded perfectly according to schedule throughout history irregardless of man's choices and behaviors. A story is written, and we are playing the part according to schedule. This would make some people feel mad and controlled, but I see it as protection and love. Left to our free will, this world would have been a dark, loveless, ruinous place, destroyed a long time ago (if you don't believe me, just read Genesis, the first book of the Bible). God has hemmed us into His plan of love and purpose for the ages. It is really beautiful to behold!
Imagine the ways this understanding can set us free:
I no longer have to worry that my sin has completely wrecked God's plan for my life (He is bigger than that)
I no longer have to worry that other people have wrecked God's plan for my life (He can and will use all things for good to accomplish His plan for my life).
I no longer have to try to control others (Someone else who has a plan for them is already in control)
I no longer have to worry that God is uninvolved or less than all-powerful to accomplish all that He has planned for me. What freedom! If you'd like a more in-depth article on this topic, send me a note!
The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, "Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand… Isaiah 14:24
"For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?" Isaiah 14:27