Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Heb 11:1 NRSV)
The older I get, the less sure I am that, as they say, “God has a plan”. I am convinced God has a goal and a purpose. I do believe there is a point to all this. Thanks to Isaiah (among others), I even think I might have a glimmer of an idea what that goal is.
In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it,
2 and many nations shall come and say:
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
3 He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more;
4 but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees,
and no one shall make them afraid;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. Micah
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11:6-9
Beyond that I don’t know. Honestly I can’t imagine a world with those five “no”s. Even at my most imaginative I can’t imagine and yet, yet I have faith that a better reality will exist.
But a plan? I don’t know. I don’t see a plan, at least not a plan in the typical way we think about a plan- a series of ordered steps designed to achieve a goal. I don’t see a plan that makes much sense.
Plans are about control. We make a plan to try to affect and control our lives. God, it seems to me, isn’t interested in control. Although God does seem to be very interested in the outcome.
I remember when I was younger how much I wanted to know- what does the future hold? Will things be okay?
At some point I realized that there are no guarantees for this life. I was not happy to learn this.
Never the less, I do think Julian of Norwich is correct.
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”
All shall be well, not because God controls everything with a precise plan. All shall be well because God has a goal. And we are invited to be part of that goal, God’s future.