I’ve always been disturbed when people tell me, “Do you want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.”

I don’t think God laughs at our plans. Yes, I trust completely in God and in God’s love for me and for all of us, but with the gift of free will, we also receive some flexibility in the plans we make.

Just as parents guide a toddler just learning to walk, God guide us in life, but leaves us some choice in the options, writes Fr. Patrick Heppe in this week’s Herald of Hope column. (Thinkstock image)

I believe God has plans for us, but I also believe there’s a bit of a “give and take” as we work to implement those plans. God doesn’t laugh at us. Because of God’s great love, we’re guided as we make those plans a reality.

As parents guide a toddler just learning to walk, the toddler receives some leeway in choosing a direction. In the same way, God continues to guide us but leaves us some choice in the options.

Our lives of prayer enable us to tap into our God-given gifts and talents. We have some idea of God’s plan for us but not necessarily the specifics. As a loving parent guides that child, so our loving God guides us in a direction and attempts to keep us out of trouble.

As parents know, difficulties and challenges are good for growth. We share our plans with God but there’s no raucous laughter on God’s part. There’s a loving nudge guiding us and protecting us, leading us in the right direction. Isn’t that the true expression of deep love? There is, however, a need for “surrender” on our part.

Surrender all too often carries with it a sense of loss. Surrender occurs because we’re losing the battle. Not true with God.

We surrender to God knowing that with God’s guidance we’re destined to win, not lose! That makes all the difference.

Read the letters of St. Paul. He was transformed from a persecutor of Christians to the number one advocate of Christianity. St. Paul allowed Jesus to enter his life. He saw the gift of new life and responded accordingly. Paul’s surrender was a definite win.

As a priest, I have the privilege of presiding over many funerals. I often get to know the deceased through family members who share stories with me.

I’m frequently inspired by the stories of those who surrender their lives to God. I’ve witnessed many surrenders — not as losses, but as victories. God guides and allows us some significant decision making options. So great is God’s love and confidence in us!

My parents were prime examples. They have been inspirations not only to their children, but to others as well. Mom never chaired a committee, but participated as she saw fit. She was the “behind the scenes” guiding force for her husband, children and grandchildren. She showed us how God-centered trust, faith and hard work come together.

Dad was a farmer with numerous side interests. Prayer was very much a part of what he did and who he was. Prayer often happened on the tractor and while milking the cows. He received direction, and made important decisions that touched many hearts and lives. There were often a variety of good options available to him.

My prayer has always been to know God’s will for me along with having the courage to put it into practice. I’ve been led to some inspirational, interesting and challenging experiences.

I truly believe in the guidance of God but also in the confidence God has in me to make the correct decision. God loves each of us and confidently trusts us to do what’s right. There are always a variety of “right” options.