Does God Have a Blueprint For My Life?
“God has a wonderful plan for your life,” declares a well-known tract. The lesson is, it seems, that we need to find God’s will for our lives and then live by it. Under this teaching, God’s individual will for us is often described as a road map, or a blueprint. All of life is planned. We simply need to discover what church God wants us to attend, who he wants us to marry, which job he wants us to take, where he wants us to live, etc., etc.
And how do we find God’s will for us? The blueprint model generally teaches that we look for “road signs” such as circumstances, inner witness, “fleeces”, “open and closed doors” and wise counsel. When we do this right we’ll find ourselves there in the very “centre of God’s will”.
It doesn’t require too much thought to see that this model is inherently flawed. Yes, I know who God wants me to marry (or at least I fondly imagine that I do) … but what happens if that person chooses someone else? Am I then ”stranded” with no hope of fulfilling God’s will for me? Thinking of God’s will as a blueprint, or detailed road map for our lives, simply does not take into account that there are many circumstances in life which are outside our control and yet affect the choices we can make.
And what about my failures? Whenever I make a mistake or a bad choice, does that wreck the whole plan? Is my life for God doomed to mediocrity because I missed out somewhere along the line? – or more accurately, because I keep messing up on a regular basis all the way down the line! Does God have an infinite number of backup plans?
Another problem with this model is that it can easily lead to “divination” – employing “supernatural” methods to somehow work out God’s will. This is simply not biblical.
The blueprint approach suggests that God has every last detail of our lives mapped out, and expects us to play complicated guessing games to find out where our next move is.
There is a much healthier way of approaching this question of leading. Rather than thinking of God as having a “wonderful plan” for our lives, it makes much better sense to think of him having a “wonderful purpose”. A plan ties us down to precise demands; a purpose provides us with direction and a goal. A plan is unforgiving. Make an error at the beginning – while you are laying the foundations perhaps – and all the following work and effort could be wasted; the whole building might collapse because of that one error. In contrast, as Paul Stevens points out, a purpose is like a stream that flows to a distant sea. The stream may be diverted from time to time. It may even wander aimlessly in swamps for a period. But it can also recover its way further down the valley and still has the potential one day to become a great river.