When I was younger, I worried a lot about God’s plan for my life – as in the day-by-day, if not hour-by-hour, plan God had for my life. I worried and worried about missing some critical clue or coming to some fork-in-the road choice that could sidetrack me from the one path God had for my life.
Some friends are currently walking The Camino, an ancient pilgrimage route in Spain. You might think that The Camino has just one path to get to the town of Santiago de Compostela. But The Camino is actually a network of pilgrimage routes. Plural. There are at least ten routes, but all lead to the same destination.
The pilgrimage called life is actually a network of routes. Some are easier; some harder. Some are dead ends. Some lead to good destinations. Some of us actually need to get our feet blistered on some bad roads in order to wise up to get on some better paths.
The early church father Augustine was in his youth a real hellion. Eventually, Augustine came to God – or rather, he realized that God had been with him and was waiting for him all along. Augustine’s awakening likely wouldn’t have come without all the failure, pain, and time he “wasted.” Reflecting on his life, the poet Mary Oliver wrote: “Things take the time they take. Don’t worry. How many roads did St. Augustine follow before he became St. Augustine?”
A more helpful way to think about your life and its relation to God is probably not a specific plan, but a general purpose.
All things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose. Translation: Things in your life will work out – will be good — because our good God makes them so. Why does God do that? Because God loves you.
God loved Augustine before he became St. Augustine. So, too, God loves you. As you are now. Warts and all. You are infinitely loved. Your purpose; the reason God put you on earth is to be fully alive in love with God, neighbor, and creation. Love is why you are here.
To learn how to live a life of love, read the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12). What does Jesus value? It’s listed there. If you need a roadmap, there it is. Champion those values. Incarnate those ways. Make your life match the love that Jesus longs to see on this earth. Do that and you will fulfill your life’s purpose. And in so doing your life will be good.
Still, questions arise: Should I study at this school? Major in that subject? Marry this person? Take that job? Move to this place? Go into that assisted living facility?
God will help you answer your questions as you: Do your homework. Get the data. Talk to trusted friends and counselors. Pray and ask God to guide you. God will. God likely won’t give you the entire roadmap. God most often just shows us the next step. But that’s okay. That’s all we need.
And if we make a mistake or need a course correction, that’s okay. God will help us. God doesn’t expect perfection. That’s our hang up, not God’s. All God asks is that we be faithful and loving. Faith means trusting God. Love is treating others the way we want to be treated.
If your Bible has maps, one of them shows the Hebrews’ route from Egypt to the Promised Land. Their Exodus path wasn’t an arrow-straight route. It took time. 40 years! They made mistakes, but God never gave up on them. They got to the Promised Land and you will, too – not because of your perfect life – but because of God’s perfect love.
And the journey we couldn’t make on our own, God in Christ made for us. Christ’s footsteps from Bethlehem to Galilee to Calvary to Easter have made the way for us all to be one with God forever.
God’s saving purpose shall prevail. All things are going to work out right because God has called you; God has made a way for you; and God walks with you. Every day.
So, relax, breathe, trust God, and just keep taking the next, right step. Whatever you face in the road ahead, God is with you. You’re not alone. Love is going to carry the day – because nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39). That divine purpose won’t fail you. So, take heart. Open your heart. Share yourself in love. Do that and you won’t have to worry about reaching your destination – because that place will already be your home.