I still remember clearly having a group conversation with some of my good friends, and one of them said in a half-joking and half-serious way – I think I need to talk to God about what “best plans” mean.
That person was a Christian just like me, and yet, had failed to realise that what we perceive as ‘best’ and ‘desirable’ may not necessarily be what God wants for us. God does not live for us. He does not serve us. Nor does He owe us anything. He does not fashion His plans according to our will.
Yes, He lets us do what we want – free will. (Which is why God let Adam and Eve eat the fruit) But it does not mean that God is a cash machine, in which we can draw money or make a wish anytime and anyhow we want. If we truly live according to His will and truly walk the journey with Him, then we will voluntarily listen to His gentle nudging and steer along the path that He would like us to follow.
You see, God is not a pushy, bossy God. He gives us the options, yet at the same time, gives His opinion. ‘Child, I think the best path would be this one right there. You can take the others, but I have designed the perfect plan via this path. There may be a climb, but the view up there is great’.
And yet, all my friend could say was that God’s plan was not in alignment with his/hers. It hurts even more because we’re Christians who placed a Higher Being above our own interests.
To add to this, I was talking to my mum today and she recalled hearing some Christian in church talking about how it was meaningless to study outside of Singapore unless those schools were Oxbridge, Yale, Stanford, Princeton or Harvard. They would look disappointingly at people who studied abroad in what they perceived as ‘nameless’ or ‘brand-less’ schools, and then talk about the big schools that their children were going to.
Yes, be proud of your children, but do not put others down in your ignorance and arrogance.
What I do not understand is that quite a few Christians tend to leave God out of the picture. Yes, so what if that kid did not go to that school? Do we not have a God who guides us in our paths? Each person has a ‘bespoke’ life journey and God’s plans for them are different from those of your children/family.
Why do we go to church and celebrate God’s power, love and grace, if we forget the very simple and foundational truth that God’s hand is at work in our lives?
My testimony is one example of that. In fact, having talked to quite a few Christian friends in Durham, I have realised that many of them were sent here by God! They tell me that through all the pain of rejection and the difficulty in simply listen to God, they have found great joy in Durham. They don’t want to be anywhere else! God has a purpose for each of them.
Yes, in Durham. No, not in XXX University.
So my encouragement today, is that even as you hear about the lives of others, do not look down on them or judge them for their life journeys, paths or careers. Even as you think about your own life and the life choices placed before you, remember that God has given you blessings, as well as chosen to withhold certain blessings from you. Do not compare your life with someone else’s. They have different experiences that God wants to use them for. You have been placed here at this time and place, with these memories, feelings and experiences for a unique purpose.
These people did not negotiate with God on what was ‘best’. They were the brave souls who decided that whatever God gave, was ‘best’.