“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you… plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.”
— Jeremiah 29:11
I am a rather, shall we say, dedicated planner of my life. I equate being without a plan to floating adrift in the middle of the ocean, with no trace of land visible for miles around. I colour code activities and events in my planner and could win an Olympic medal for crossing items off lists. And I don’t at all like the idea of leaving the importance of my life’s purpose and journey to something as wayward and irresponsible as 'chance'.
So the oft-quoted Bible passage I invoked above should comfort me. It isn’t chance at all that directs the circumstances of my life, but a God who loves and dreams for me. A God who has plans for me. It should reassure me to know that He has a handle on the big picture of my life, even when I don’t have a clue where I’m going.
Because, if I give in to the idea that there is one plan for my life, then I become obsessed about whether or not I’m following it. People who plan have to be prepared for things not to go according to that plan, and I’m preoccupied with the alternatives because, well, if there’s only one way it can go right, then there are infinite ways it can all go wrong.
And sometimes, when I catch myself scrolling absentmindedly through my Facebook or Instagram feeds, comparing the plan I’m following with all of the roads not taken, I ask myself if I’ve made the wrong choice. If I’m doing what I should be doing. If I’m living according to plan.
But then a friend put it to me this way: “We tend to think our lives are composed of blueprints. But really, they’re tapestries.”
And this has revolutionised the way I think about 'the plans' God has for my life. Because we’re gifted with free will, we know that God doesn’t control our lives with the precision demanded of blueprints – a rigidity that makes sense for architectural design, because if you fumble and fail to follow instructions to the letter, the entire structure may collapse.
Instead, I believe God wants to collaborate with us. We can give him any decision, any thread in any color, and He’ll use it to weave an intricate masterpiece. You could give him the fraying string or the most hideous shade of orange, and He’ll still find a use for it.
If you were to take a tapestry and turn it over, you’d see thousands of threads wound and tangled together. And you’d probably call that a mess. But what you see when you look at the front is a complete composition, an integrated whole with a unifying theme that is larger than the chaos in any particular corner.
The moral of the story? We get to relax. We get to rest in the certainty that there are lots of beautiful ways to live this life, and that the 'plans' God speaks of are broad visions for our happiness, faithfulness, and success – visions we may only fully understand years from now, when we step back and consider the entire tapestry of our lives. We get to trust that our tapestries are still being woven, and we get to wonder at the kind of masterpieces we’ll become.
Sarah Zentner is a freelance writer who specializes in topics concerning twenty-something life and the Christian faith. She loves walking with others through this turbulent period of life, and she believes in nursing every young woman’s love for and belief in herself. When she’s not writing, Sarah enjoys singing along to musical soundtracks, savoring a piece of delicious chocolate, or curling up with a cup of tea and a great book.