Dear Mary Beth,
I am not sure that God knows my future.
[You wrote], “He knows what will happen to you. And He is working on a plan to take whatever happens in your life and fashion it into something beautiful for you.”
I guess I think your statement above should read “God knows your potential; if you pray every day you will be closer to understanding what God intends for your life.”
I’m not sure who you believe God is, but if you believe He doesn’t know your future, then the “god” you are worshipping is very limited indeed, and far from the omnipotent Creator who has revealed Himself through Scripture and the Incarnation.
Scripture is full of assurance that God’s power is absolutely complete, that He knows everything. “For even if our heart reproaches us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows all things” (1 Jn 3:20).
That’s all things.
There is no surprising God.
It’s very difficult to wrap our brains around the idea that God could know the future, because for those of us who live in time, it is impossible to know the future. So we tend to project that limitation onto God as well. We think, “OK, so God may think He knows the future, but what if I change my mind? I can pull one over on God. I won’t do what He’s expecting me to do. I’ll change the future.”
Here’s the problem: the God who knows everything knew you were going to change your mind. And if you change it back again, he knows that, too. He’s always one step ahead of you.
I think the best analogy for us would be the example of a novel. Let’s use Gone with the Wind as an example. Once we’ve read the whole thing, we know exactly what’s going to happen. We know that Scarlett will love Ashleigh but pursue Rhett Butler. We know Tara will be destroyed and that Atlanta will burn. We know Rhett and Scarlett will marry. And we know Rhett will reject Scarlett at the end.
It’s such a good story that you might want to read it again. And when you do, you’ll already know the ending. There will be no differences the second time around. Ashleigh won’t decide he loves Scarlett after all. Scarlett won’t catch herself and avoid falling down the stairs. And Rhett won’t stand at the door and say “Frankly, Scarlett, I’d like to give us another chance.”
All of those characters are, within the context of the story, acting out of free will. But by the time we’ve read it, we know what the choices are.
God has read the end of the story.
The thing is, God may not like all of our choices. We’re free to make them – that’s why we call it free will. God didn’t program what those choices would be. He lets us make them.
He knew Adam and Eve would eat the apple. He knew His Son would be crucified. And yet He created us. He sent His Son. He gives us every opportunity.
And because He knows in advance how we will respond – whether we will follow His will or not – He is in the position of being able to “pre-act,” to fashion circumstances in our lives that will give us even more chances to turn back to Him, to do the right thing and return to His will.
Yes, God has a plan for us. And yes, that plan takes into account all of the messing up that we will do along the way. God doesn’t want us to mess up. Messing up causes damage. But He’s always there to “write straight with crooked lines” and to bring good out of whatever messes we create, if we only open ourselves up to Him.
I hope this explanation helps you. Because I can’t imagine believing in a God who doesn’t know the future, who can’t see where we’re headed, who is stumbling around as blind as we are.
That’s not the God I know.