There is a long-standing debate regarding God’s sovereignty. 

On one extreme, there are those who say God actively controls each and every activity in His universe.  On the other extreme, there are those who imply God is unaware of—or incapable of doing—some things in His universe.  Most Christians fall somewhere in between.

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Without derailing where I’m going today, I’ll say that I’m in the camp of those who believe God is sovereign and nothing is out of His control in some way.  There is not one atom moving in contradiction to the will of God.

Yet, Scripture also holds us accountable for our actions and behaviors.  How can we be free to choose if God chooses everything that happens?

Great question. 

Proverbs 16:9 contributes to the tension when we read the following:

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.  

Proverbs 16:9
New International Version

The Bible is not down on planning.  Some have taken this verse off the rails by teaching the Lord doesn’t want us planning or using our brains.  They read this verse as a warning against planning.

The verse, however, is not giving a warning at all.  It’s giving comfort.

We are to use the brains the Lord put in our skulls.  We are to be diligent and sober-minded in the pursuit of our Creator.  As we plan, however, we seek to apply the Lord’s wisdom to our lives.  As we take steps to move towards Jesus, we begin to embrace His wisdom in our lives.

We learn to walk the steps He has established.  As we learn His wisdom, we learn to move in harmony with Him.

One area I’ve seen this in my life is in the area of planning the preaching calendar for my congregation where I serve.  Every July, I take the scraps of ideas, conversations, staff input, Elder conversations, and I start working through the next year’s message series and individual messages. 

There are a lot of steps in the process, but time and again it unfolds the same way: the following year unfolds and the message series “just so happens” to hit where people are needing the Lord to minister to them.

Did I know the future?  Not in the least.  But I’m learning to listen to the One who does.

If our Lord could move the prophets to tell of how the end of time unfolds, why do we act like He’s unable to position us for greatest impact for Him?

The tension comes when we think we were the ones positioning ourselves.  We weren’t.  We aren’t.  When we learn to apply the Lord’s wisdom, we learn to hear his nudges and whispers.  He speaks to us, through others, and in circumstances.

The steps we’re walking are the path He has cleared for us, but in the moment, it can seem like it’s all my choice.

As Dr. Doug Moo said in a doctorate seminar on the Book of Romans, “God’s sovereignty and our free will are two parallel train tracks from our perspective.  Yet, in eternity—from God’s perspective—they meet.”

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It doesn’t make sense to us because parallel lines do not cross.  Still, this comparison validates our lack of ability to understand how the Lord works while simultaneously reminding us we aren’t “off the hook” to gain Biblical wisdom.

Dear one in Jesus, don’t worry so much about thwarting the plans of God for your life.  He’s the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth and you and I are humans.  We’re not that powerful to derail the train of His perfect plans.

Instead, plan for how you will live for Him and bring Him glory. Gain and apply His wisdom in your life and enjoy the ride with Him.

Do you like what you’ve read? Would you consider Dr. Joel’s devotional book in the Proverbs?