ISSUES OF FAITH: Putting God’s plans ahead of your own expectations

IT CAN BE a rather scary leap approaching God.

What does that mean, approaching God?

You’re putting out feelers, seeing and wondering if he exists, possibly in a way where you hope he doesn’t.

I have known a few people that have crossed the Rubicon and had an encounter that could really only come from “somewhere else,” and been sufficiently terrified that they retreated and didn’t venture down that road again.

In Jesus’s time, we saw this often — the element of fear upon the realization that something greater is here, something inexplicable, something that may make me have to adjust my life.

Honestly, that’s usually the deal-breaker, as they say, “I don’t want to change.”

If God is real, then “I’m going to have to change.”

So, young and old retreat.

But many don’t as well.

So many things in life reach that place where you know the next step is a big one.

You sense it or see it.

There is hesitation, inner monologues, thought and then action.

The desire to pursue God is the biggest decision you will ever make for one simple reason: our eternal soul and its final home.

Most people, the high majority, believe in some type of God.

We are very optimistic because we think heaven awaits.

If we say that we believe in God, does our heart follow our lips?

The old line … If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Think about this. Paul certainly did.

Watching the movie “Groundhog Day” the other evening, I thought how clever it was, but also what was the point?

Is it a metaphor for something or just a Bill Murray comedy?

Something existential is definitely going on, but Murray seems to be resisting truly improving the big picture of his life.

His plans are too self-involved and he is in a kind of purgatory to “wake up.”

The female lead is more grounded and sincerely tries to help him, but the days repeat themselves until something’s got to give.

It’s light fare, not like real life.

Plans both big and little can go astray.

“Planning is indispensable,” Dwight Eisenhower once said. “But plans are useless.”

“No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy,” German field marshal Helmuth von Moltke opined.

This is more like real life, though these generals are referring to strategical and tactical violence.

When we think of our families, our work or ourselves most of us would say they have a general idea of how they would like the day to go.

We have specific ideas, too.

At the end of the day we might be grateful that some things didn’t go as planned as God moved us in places, to people and situations we didn’t expect.

It is never the same, unlike “Groundhog Day.”

The two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus encountered Jesus but did not recognize him.

It was a long walk and Jesus unfolded salvation history for Cleopas and his companion.

Their hearts were “burning” as Jesus spoke to them and as they broke bread with him.

It was then they recognized Jesus.

And then he vanished.

We encounter Jesus every day — in the people we come in contact with, in the Eucharist at Mass, in prayer and scripture.

We plan so well that we occasionally forget about the plan that matters most: our relationship with Jesus.

Remember, God created you.

He loves you and is always with you.

If we allow him into our life we realize that there is nothing to fear, except the absence of God.


Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Mike Acheson is director of religious education at Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church in Port Angeles and St. Joseph Parish in Sequim. His email is

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