“Ask a Priest: I’m Feeling Lost … Does God Control Our Lives?”

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Q: I’ve gone to Catholic school and university, but I’m feeling very lost and distant. Does God control anything that happens in our lives then? I know he gives us gifts and it’s up to us if we use them or not. But for example, does he know (have planned out) where I will be with my life in, say, the next 10 years (job-wise, married, children, etc.)? Thank you. – Hailey

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Thanks for your question. It’s the kind of question that probably occurs to everyone at one point or another.

Maybe a football analogy will help here.

God gives us certain rules to “play the game” in the moral life. There are boundary lines and norms about when and how the ball can be moved.

Beyond that, God lets us be the quarterback. We can call the plays but need to respect the rules of the game.

God knows where you will be in 10 years, but that doesn’t mean that he has planned things out in the sense that he’s taken away your free will. It’s just that he exists outside of time, so he is equally present to all moments in time — very difficult for us to grasp that.

All of this means that you have a lot of flexibility. This is where you can make the decisions about the path you will take.

Now, all this might seem a bit too open-ended and even scary.

The best thing is to take life one day at a time. This means making time for prayer and the sacraments. It means cultivating the gifts that God gives you (intellect, musical skills, people skills, etc.).

This means looking to do acts of charity for others. It means connecting with a network of friends who share your faith or at least your desire to follow God’s will in the broad sense.

If you do this, life will take shape little by little. You will see where the Holy Spirit is leading you.

A key in all this is your prayer life. You might want to pray a bit each day with the Gospels.

A book that can help you pray the Gospels is The Better Part.

You might want to do a retreat at a solid Catholic retreat center. This would be valuable time to do deeper into your relationship with God.

And stay close to the Blessed Virgin Mary. She will intercede for you.

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