Dan 4:25. “… until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.” NLT
In the same way, each person's journey has unexpected terrain and turns.
We need to embrace a balanced viewed of human responsibility and divine sovereignty. As the writer to the book of Proverbs says …
Prov 16:9. In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. NIV
Prov 19:21. Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails. NIV
We are to proactively and responsibly plan our way but as we do we are to acknowledge that it is God who directs our steps. This is not fatalism but rather trust.
How do you see the world? What is your worldview when it comes to providence and God’s sovereignty?
- Do you see everything as ‘set’ (determinism)? Are we playing in a classical orchestra where everything is predetermined and we really have no individual choices?
- Is life simply a wild jam session - a free for all where nothing is planned and where we are totally in control and able to make life whatever we want it to be?
- Or is life more like a jazz band, where there is an overall plan but with lots of improvisation within it, as we respond to the choices that we and others make?
I believe that the latter is a more biblical concept. Life involves interaction and interplay between heaven and earth. God has a purpose and plan but within this we have the responsibility and freedom to make choices that have consequences.
Deut 30:19. This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life … NIV
There are many influences on our lives but none of them have to control us or determine us. We don’t have to live a life of blaming everything and everyone else for our situation. We have the freedom of choice. We can’t control what happens to us but we can control how we respond. Between every stimulus and every response there is a moment of choice.
God has given us the capacity to be aware of ourselves - we can examine our own tendencies (the scripts or programs within us). We have the God-given ability to rewrite the scripts and re-program ourselves. We are not a victim of conditions or conditioning. We can choose our response to any situation or any person. Between what happens to us and our response is a degree of freedom. In that freedom to choose our response lies the power to achieve growth and fulfilment. We accept our feelings (frustration, anger, etc) without denying or repressing them. But we choose our response according to our values. I am response-able!
The theological theme of the book of Daniel is God's sovereignty: "The Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men" (5:21). Daniel's visions always show God as triumphant (7:11, 26-27; 8:25; 9:27; 11:45; 12:13). The climax of his sovereignty is described in Revelation: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever" (Rev 11:15; cf. Dan 2:44; 7:27).
Daniel embraced a sense of destiny and had a strong sense that God had a purpose and a plan for his life even through the uncertainty and contradictions that at times he faced. In fact, Daniel became a person of prophetic insight who received understanding of God’s overall plan for the ages, he was able to see into the future (for his culture, king and his own nation) and be a spokesperson for God.
We live in a time of great uncertainty, even of fear. There is much upheaval in our world – wars, natural disasters and the daily pressures of living. In the midst of this ‘darkness’, God is at work. May you and I be people who know God and understand his purposes so that we can be a light to others – showing them the way!