How would you feel if you found out that God doesn’t have a womb to tomb plan for your life, or that God hasn’t plotted out the entire arc of history, step by step? I don’t think God works that way. I believe it is more that God has a vision for the world and we have been given the mission of breathing that vision into life.
If God doesn’t have a detailed plan for the world, what could be his vision? I believe it’s this: Abundant love. That’s it. That’s our marching order. Create a world where each person and each thing is surrounded by abundant love. Simple, right?
What would our relationships look like if our first impulse was to approach each person with abundant love? Would you listen differently when others speak? Would you treat neighbors or co-workers differently? How would you respond to those persons with whom you disagree or maybe don’t even like?
What would the planet look like if we treated it with abundant love when making decisions to build a shopping mall, to expand a highway, to extend a pipeline through an ecologically sensitive corridor or any of the thousands of developments that impact the environment?
For those who find it unsettling to think that there is no step by step plan from God, consider this example. Back in the 1980’s there was a series of Choose Your Own Adventure books for teens/tweens. Each book had a basic story line, but the reader was forced to make decisions at key points throughout the book. The story would change based on the decisions the reader chose. I think that’s how God works. He has a basic direction in mind, but how that turns out at any given moment is dependent upon the choices we humans make. After all, we have the freedom to choose and sometimes we turn a deaf ear to the call of God.
The good news is that I don’t believe God gives up on us or on his desires for the world. If one person says no to God’s invitation, another will be called. I find this sometimes happens in our Quaker meeting for worship. At a Quaker gathering, you basically sit in silent prayer unless you feel called by God to speak a message for the group to hear. Occasionally I may feel an urge to speak but decide not to, thinking it is something I want to say and not necessarily a missive from God. But during that same meeting, another person will get up and essentially share the same message that I declined to speak. For me this is just a tiny example of how God will keep knocking on doors until he finds someone willing to listen and to act on his call. Eventually, God’s vision will unfold based on his persistence, on his steadfast love, and on our readiness to become his partners.
Once you accept the call to co-create a world surrounded by abundant love, everything changes.
· How you view the world changes
· How you treat others changes
· How you treat yourself changes
I think we can agree that the world and those around us could use a dose of abundant love right now. That sounds like a plan.
Michael Soika has been a community activist for more than 30 years working on issues of social and economic justice. His work for justice is anchored by his spiritual formation first as a Catholic and now as a Quaker.