Do you ever wonder if God is trying to control your life? Does He have some master plan in mind, and if so, where do we all fit in? Are we really free to direct our own lives? Since time eternal, man has struggled to understand these questions about the nature of God and our relationship with Him.
The Catechism tells us that man is “created with free will and is master over his acts.”1 But we have our doubts. Take Mary, for instance. When we look at her life, it’s easy to think that she was just a pawn or a puppet, a character created to serve God’s purposes. There seems to be a contradiction between an all-knowing, all-powerful God and our freedom. But if that were really the case, what about those individuals who didn’t serve God’s purposes, the ones who, from God’s perspective, seriously messed up? What about Judas, or even Adam and Eve? Before God created them, He knew what choices they would make. Yet He still created them.
If we accept the idea of free will, we must also accept that it works both ways – it can’t only serve our purposes. It is precisely because God respects our freedom that He doesn’t intervene and prevent every bad thing from happening. I’m no philosopher, but it’s obvious that our actions have consequences. The laws of nature tell us this is so. God created us free, allowing for the possibility that we could make mistakes or even turn our backs on Him. But this gift of freedom also lends us a dignity unlike any other creature; it’s what makes us capable of responding to His love.
God certainly guides the world and each of our lives, but in a way that can’t be fully explained.2 He is the architect and can envision the “final product,” so to speak. But He also invites us to collaborate with Him, to help in “the completion of creation,”beginning first and foremost with our own lives.3 Mother Teresa liked to think of it as being God’s pencil, an instrument of His love: “I am only a little pencil in the hand of our Lord. He may cut or sharpen the pencil. He may write or draw whatever and whenever he wants. If the writing or drawing is good, we do not honor the pencil or the material that is used, but rather the one who used it.”4 You see, God has this amazing ability to write straight with our crooked lines. He sees the big picture and has the power to bring good from any situation.
Rest assured, God is in control, but He’s not a control freak. It’s up to each of us to decide whether or not we will put our trust in Him, whether or not we will choose His love. To borrow a line from Mumford & Sons, it’s a love that will “not betray you, dismay or enslave you; it will set you free…”5 When it really gets down to it, knowing and loving God is the greatest use of our freedom and that for which we were created.
– Kelley Holy
“What did not lie in my plan lay in God’s plan. And the more often something like this happens to me, the livelier becomes the conviction of my faith that – from God’s perspective – nothing is accidental.” St. Edith Stein
1 CCC, 1730.
2 Cf. YOUCAT (Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church), 49.
3 Ibid., 50.
5 Mumford & Sons, “Sigh No More.”