Many Christians like to say God is in control. He has a plan for your life and everything that happens is part of the plan. Some will tell you he arranges the events of each day for us, including the trials. When you hear people talk like this, do you feel relieved at the thought God has every minute planned out for you—or do you chafe a bit, like me?

I’ve always wondered why I don’t like hearing people say God is in control. While I believe everything is ultimately under his control, I have a problem with the notion that he micromanages our lives. What about free will and making choices?

I think the answer may be in the Trinitarian relationship. Father, Son and Holy Spirit do what they do together. Jesus said the Father, living in him, did his work (John 14:10). It’s all about participation: the Father with the Son with the Holy Spirit. Jesus called us friends (John 15:15) and what do friends do? They participate in a relationship together. Friendship isn’t about control or planning things out for each other. It’s about love, freely given and freely accepted. It’s about sharing experiences and helping each other.

Friendship with God works the same way, with some differences of course. God isn’t just a friend; he’s the sovereign Lord of the universe and as such, a relationship with him is on a higher plane than the one I have with my human friends. My relationship with God is in Christ, through the Spirit and is more of a participation in the relationship Jesus has with his Father. It happens because God loved me first and not because of anything I do.

Based on that concept, when I read Jeremiah 29:11-13, I envision an overarching plan for my life—salvation, life in Christ, knowing God in and through the Spirit, and eventual life forever in God’s eternity. I don’t discount God working in the little things in my life. I see his hand every day, from the ways he encourages me and reminds me of his love, to the way he guides and protects me. Because he lives in me, we go through life hand in hand so to speak, and each day my prayer is that I will listen to the Spirit and respond to him as he leads me.

Did he provide the parking place I got at the store or arrange for me to break a glass and cut my foot? I can’t say for certain, but I’m pretty sure God doesn’t micromanage my life. What I do know is he leads me, guides me and is always with me and reminds me of his presence throughout each day.

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