There is a statement that has become very popular in the last few years. You will hear it a lot, especially from young people.
“I know that God has a plan for my life.”
If this statement is talking about God’s great plan of happiness, the plan of salvation, then it’s very true; God does have a plan for your life. However, if we are using the term in a way that says God is in charge of my life and I need to simply let things happen as they happen, then we are misunderstanding a great principle and do not understand the very essence of our mortal existence.
THE GREATEST GIFT
The greatest gift we have is life. The greatest gift, other than life itself, is agency. In the book of Revelation we learn about the terrible war in heaven.
“And there was a war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not…”
This war, like many earthly wars, was a war for real estate and natural resources. The real estate the dragon desired to occupy was our minds, and the natural resource he wanted was the free will of each of us. It was a war for control. The dragon fought to have control and to eliminate the free will of the children of God. He understood that if he controlled our minds and will, he controlled everything.
As with any war for freedom, the saddest outcome is the ingratitude and indifference of the benefactors. God has given us each this great gift of agency. How sad and truly ungrateful it is for us to be indifferent, or to refuse the gift.
THE STEERING WHEEL OF LIFE
Social Worker and Family Therapist Craig Berthold, LCSW, uses a wonderful image with his patients to help them understand the principle of agency, and to help them take control of their lives. He asks his patients to close their eyes and imagine a steering wheel. This steering wheel is the steering wheel of their life. It determines which direction they travel through life. They then are asked to imagine the hands of everyone and everything that has some kind of control over them; they imagine those hands on their steering wheels. When they have that image firmly in their minds, he will ask them where their own hands are. Often patients are surprised to realize that their own hands are not on the steering wheel at all. Sometimes there is no room on the wheel for their own hands. They have given all control to others. They are then instructed to remove, one by one, every hand from their steering wheels. Remove your mother’s hands, your father’s hands, your spouse’s hands, your minister’s hands your employer’s hands; remove the hands of the media the hands of your appetites and addictions. Remove them all – even your Heavenly Father’s hands. Now place your own hands firmly in the 10 and 2 o’clock positions.
If we have not been behind the wheel before, that’s a scary thing. The natural tendency is to let those other hands back on the wheel, close our eyes, and hope for the best. But letting others drive never gets us to where we will truly be happy.
Often the most difficult thing for faithful people is to take God’s hands off their steering wheels. However, to truly appreciate and implement the great gift that was fought for in heaven, we must remove all hands but our own. To grow and learn we need to exercise our will and steer our lives. God did not send us here with the intention of steering our life for us. He will sit next to us. He will give us advice, maps and traffic reports, but He will not drive. We can ask for directions; we can get weather reports; but God will not drive.
God wants us to arrive safely at the destination that will make us each the happiest we can be. He knows which bridges are out, where toxic spills have occurred and which roads our vehicle can handle. He provides road maps and reports, and fortunately, updates them regularly. The wonderful part of all of this is we each have the agency to choose whether or not to pay attention to the updates. And should we make a wrong turn, He has prepared a way to get us back on track.
It’s important to remember that God not only knows where the pitfalls are, he also knows all of life’s beautiful vistas, amazing beaches, autumn canyons, and rest stops. Simply trust, and enjoy the journey!
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Christus photo by: CastleGate Media LLC
Steering wheel photo by: morguefile.com, mugur
Construction photo by: morguefile.com, Jusben
QUOTES ABOUT AGENCY
Critical to our knowledge of the plan of happiness is an understanding of the great governing principle of agency. – M. Russell Ballard
Since the authorship of the agency of man is God’s, should we not look to him for the best media to help us to control our choices? – John H. Vandenberg
Life (Video 2:35, Source: lds.org)
The Sting of The Scorpion (Video 2:50, Source: lds.org)
Agency Topics Page (Source: lds.org)
Scriptures about Agency (Source: lds.org)