And the Lord said, “Go.” (Genesis 12:1)
The pilgrim said, “Go where?”
Pilgrim: “How will I know the way?”
Pilgrim: “How will I know when I get there?”
Mostly life does not come with a clearly defined road map. We take one step after another; we move forward without any clear picture of what lies ahead. Plans change; things seldom turn out as we anticipate.
No one really knows what is going on. It is good to be cautious around anyone who seems to have a definite picture of exactly where things are headed and who gives the impression of knowing the exact meaning of every event along the way.
I am often asked, “Does God have a plan?” God does have a plan. God’s plan is that we humans might become as fully as possible the rich deep, loving beings we were created to be. We exist to manifest in the visible realm that invisible beauty that is our true nature created in the image of God. As William Blake wrote in “Songs of Innocence,”
And we are put on earth a little space
That we may learn to bear the beams of love
That is the only plan I know of. The specifics of how that plan works out in our lives are basically irrelevant.
The beauty of God’s plan is that you can fulfill God’s plan anywhere. It does not matter what the external circumstances of your life may be. Anything and everything can be used to help you become the radiant being that is your true destiny. You don’t need an academic degree, a particular career, a special relationship. You only need a heart that is open to the Spirit and willing to expand.
The special thing about God’s plan is that it works best when we don’t know what is going on. God’s plan is most effective when we don’t understand. When we cannot make sense of what is happening, God’s plan has a special opportunity to come to fulfillment because the only requirement for God’s plan to work is trust. Trust grows in the soil of uncertainty; it thrives in the land of doubt and confusion.
The prophet Jeremiah says,
Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
And its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7,8)
We do not know where the journey of our lives will lead. All we can know for sure is that there will be times when we feel nourished and sustained and there will be times when life seems barren and dry. If our roots go down deep into God, we will pass through times of feast without attachment and survive famine without fear. The wind will blow; but the tree with roots in God will withstand the storms.
The storms and the drought are gifts given to us to help us develop the muscles of trust. If life were all smooth and the skies always sunny, we would never develop the inner resilience of faith that can stand firm no matter what circumstances may come into our lives.
With trust we are able to step forth into the unknown confident that only good can come. The good may not look the way we had hoped. The good that comes may not be painless. But it will be good because it will give us an opportunity to open more deeply to that inner resilience that is the presence of God at the core of our being. Our attachment to God rather than to any particular outcome or plan we may have allows us to journey on in freedom.
The beauty of trust is that no one can take it from me. I may lose my career. My family may abandon me; my stock market portfolio may evaporate, my health may be gone, my strength will fade. But I can always choose to trust. I can always open to the presence of God at the core of my being, holding my life, sustaining my heart and enabling me to grow and deepen in my ability to love.
No one knows the future. We never really understand the past. We move forward with courage because we trust that whatever we encounter will be a new opportunity to fulfill God’s plan to enrich and deepen our lives with new hope and light. This is a plan upon which we can rely and in which we can trust eternally.