(As a caveat, this is a set of contemplations–a thought experiment, and is in NO way intended to be a final determination)
I’ve definitely been in this position before–where I felt like I was listening to ALL of God’s signs, I was doing EVERYTHING He was telling me to do. I prayed, I was obedient, I went to church, read my Bible, served others, and yet, the path I thought I was going down actually turned out to be something completely different. Does this mean that I was missing God’s signs all together? Does this mean that God is not stable and unfaltering like they promised? Does this mean that maybe God doesn’t love me and have a plan for me like they say?…
Sometimes, I think we feel frustrated because we feel like we are reading all of the signs, we are doing what we feel we are supposed to–we are in the right places at the right times, we feel like we are going down the right direction, and we feel like God has given us one message, and then suddenly, that one message seems to change…
It could be that we have missed all of God’s signs–that the messages we THOUGHT were intended for us were not actually messages at all; maybe all of the signs were pointing towards us attending this particular college–people in our lives spoke about it, we received a scholarship, a random commercial blasted on the random T.V. program you were watching–and then something happens that means we will actually not be attending that college. Or, maybe we thought FOR SURE we were going to be marrying someone who is tall, dark, and handsome–we’ve been praying about it, and God flashed an image in front of us of a tall, dark, and handsome man, anyone that comes across our dating ap IS tall, dark, and handsome, and all the experiences we’ve had with non-tall, dark, and handsome have been bland, and then someone shows up at our door step one day who is blonde hair, blue-eyed, and our Future Husband. Or, maybe we thought DEFINITELY I am going to get this job–it fell into my lap (like they say God’s workings do), I talked to several people who pointed me in that direction, one person on the interview committee was wearing the same watch I was, and then it turns out, they picked another candidate.
But, could it also be that, perhaps, something has shifted in God’s plan, and so the direction we thought we were headed down actually needed to be shifted so that we can be used somewhere else?
I believe in a God who does not control me like a puppet, but rather, one that allows me to have autonomy in my choices. Of course, there are choices that this God would prefer for me to choose, but ultimately, at the end of the day, it is my choice of which direction I take. He would prefer for me to not gossip, because gossip is negative energy that weighs on me, but whether I do gossip or not it’s ultimately my choice. He would prefer for me to attend church, because attending church gives me insight into the Bible and makes me more knowledgeable about my religion, but ultimately, it is my choice whether I attend or not. He would prefer for me to not speed down the road, because that is unsafe and breaks the laws, but whether I speed or not is in my control.
And, if I think about all of the people in the world, and all of the people that God is laying plans for, all the puzzle pieces He must fit together, and all of the people who have the potential to NOT listen to their callings, or to make their OWN decisions, or even those who don’t KNOW what it’s like to listen to God (and all of the times that I, myself, do not listen, even though I know I should), then of course something will be cut off course, and God will have to revamp my route to send me somewhere else, and maybe that is why I feel like God “isn’t listening”–He IS listening, but He is also orchestrating a world full of broken people.
Let’s say, for example, I really felt like God was pushing me to have this ONE venue for my wedding–everything in my life has always said that this ONE venue is where I’m to be married (my dreams, the Scripture passage brought up in church, the fact that it is BELOW my budget), and I really feel like this is going to work out. But, when I go to sign the contract, it turns out, the venue is no longer available. Does that mean that all the signs God sent me were inaccurate? Does that mean I was disobedient in some way? Well maybe, but maybe there was some kind of human, working under their human ways, that caused the venue to slip, and while God’s plan the entire time was to give me that venue, it turns out a human altered it somehow, and now God will shift some pieces in order to rearrange for my perfect day.
Or, perhaps it happens that I feel really strongly that this job is going to be IT–I’ve been on a job search for nine months, I’ve self reflected, humbled myself, prayed, listened, and I know that this just HAS to be it–it fits my pay expectations, I’m perfectly qualified for it, I get along great with the team–and then I get the call that they, “went with another candidate”. Does this mean that my praying did nothing? Does this mean that I was incorrect with why I thought the job was a great fit? Maybe, but then again maybe something happened within the company–a human decision (there was an office affair that required restructuring, someone’s nephew recently got fired from his job for poor attendance and they had to give it to him, the stock market crashed and they had to cut positions)–that caused the job to veer off course–God intended for me to be there, so He sent me all of those signs, but because of some human choice, He must now put together another plan for me.
Or, it happens that I am CERTAIN for my entire childhood, youth-hood, and early adulthood that I am going to marry this guy–we have all of the same interests, our families get along, a recent love song came out on the radio that speaks directly to our love story–and then something happens that forbids us to be together (he decides to move away and vows to never come home, a destructive behavior gets in the middle of us and one of us decides it is a non-negotiable, someone has a tragic accident and timing is changed). Does that mean that God never wanted us to be together? Does that mean that God is malicious and wants to intervene in and ruin good love? Does that mean we were never meant to be together? Maybe, but maybe it also means that, because we have autonomy, a human decision (either from one of us, or someone else) intervenes, and therefore, God is finding another plan for us.
I can’t believe in a God who is neglectful–one who is deceitful, who doesn’t have my best interests in mind, one that isn’t working on a greater plan. But, I also can’t believe in a God who controls everything and everyone–one who plants deceitful and deceptive people in my life, one who tries to veer those off course, one who sends me false signs and messages.
I can, however, believe in one who is always working FOR me, and even if I feel a lull, or I feel like my plan has changed, does not mean that He isn’t re-working some pieces for something better.