What if God loves an open-ended adventure and has not planned out our lives?

We love to say that God has a plan for our life. There is even a verse for this.

‘For I know what plans I have in mind for you,’ says ADONAI,’plans for well-being, not for bad things; so that you can have hope and a future.’ Jer 29:11 CJB

Interestingly enough, many other translations replace “plans” with “thoughts,” changing the meaning of the verse drastically.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith Jehovah, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end. Jer 29:11 ASV

The Hebrew word means thought or inventions that spring from that thought. It can be translated purpose, intention, or device as well, according to Strong’s.

I could take the short route and say that God spoke this verse to the Israelites in exile. The “plan” he is speaking about is to bring them back into their country. I will not open a debate whether we can apply this verse to any other situation or not. Just this: if we believe that God does not change, we might argue that he had a plan then for them, he must have a plan now for me.

There are many leaps in that argument. Again, let me just point out one. Not every Israelite was going to return. Some will have died before the word came true, and some will have refused to go back. To go from the “them” to the “me” is a stretch.

But what do we hear when we read this verse? Especially, what do we mean when we speak this verse to somebody? It is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible, by the way.

What we hear is this:

Even though things are currently rough or even bad, God still has a plan for you. Therefore, there is a good future awaiting you. That should give you hope. If it ain’t good yet, God just ain’t done.

Of course, there are those that die in pain and anguish, their lives falling apart around them with no hope of restoration. We have an answer to that too. God is going to dry their tears in the next realm.

Because God promised this:

And we know that God works together all things for good to those loving God, to those being called according to His purpose. Rom 8:28 BLB

We are getting close to the question why there is suffering in the world. And these two verses seem to give us hope: God has a plan and everything will work out just fine, at least in the end. We have learned to postpone reward. And we have learned to call it good when we can help people in bad situations that we have lived through.

But what if I or circumstances (which we often call the devil) are in the way of God’s plan for me? We have come up with two answers for that situation:

Either what happens next was the original, predetermined plan anyway, or God has a plan B, C, D in the backhand as he foresaw my decisions or circumstances.

But what if we translate the verse more literally? God then has good intentions for us as a collective instead of an individual plan.

God might have a final destination for humanity rather than a detailed plan on how to get there. And as I said in the last installment, he might trust himself and us so much that he knows he will get there eventually.

This overall intention might be as general as maturing us as humanity into his counterpart, equal, and companion. We could call that the wedding feast of the lamb.

How many times has God expressed his surprise about our actions? If God foreknew everything, how could he be surprised? Is it just that he told his prophets that he was, or they decided that God must have been surprised?

Maybe God did not know that we would choose to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Perhaps it did not matter because he just wanted to take us on an open-ended adventure, knowing full well that it would end well, while not knowing how it would pan out or how the end would look considering all the details.

But what about “not my will be done but yours?”

What exactly is God’s will then if not for us to return to his original plan?

What if God is all potential, and he offers us everything possible in the situation that we are in, giving us absolute freedom to choose, but knowing which potential alternatives lead to a betterment of our situation or us maturing? Doing his will would be to choose one of these beneficial next actions.

This would boil down to a mutual love relationship. Back to Romans 8:28:

God works together all things for the good of those that love him. Love is not obedience as we often understood doing God’s will. Love is to know somebody intimately and to want to know them even better. It is a mature way of trusting each other. It will lead to us choosing those beneficial next steps.

But what about the other part: “to those being called according to his purpose?”

This opens up the possibility to everybody. God offers those beneficial alternatives to everybody, as he is love and therefore loves everybody. He will keep on offering us all potentialities.

But more than that, he will be with us in every situation. He will not leave us nor forsake us. He can’t, as he is us and we are him.

Choosing a non-beneficial possibility does not end in eternal separation, but in being offered new possibilities, including those that bring order to the mess we created.

Do we trust the plan God has for us, or do we trust God?