Is your life really your own or are you part of a bigger plan? What if the answer could be ‘all of the above’?

There’s a fun new game doing the rounds on Facebook. You might have seen this one already. You click a button, give the app the relevant permissions and, before you can blink, it shows you your Facebook status update ten years into the future.

When I saw this on a friend’s Facebook wall, hers too was focussed on travelling and it made me wonder two things:

(1) Was the app sponsored by a travel company? and,

(2) What would I really like El from the future to be posting about?

“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese proverb.

Now here’s the bit where I sometimes get into a bit of a pickle …

Is our life really our own or are we part of a bigger plan? And if the answer is the latter, how do hopes and dreams and aspirations come into it?

Because about four or five years ago, towards the end of the year, I wrote a letter to myself, twelve months into the future. I wrote it as if everything had already happened and it was super inspiring. And then I forgot all about it and got on with my year.

What do you think happened to all the stuff I’d written down? Did any of it come true? If you laughed and guessed “no way” give yourself a gold star because, without exception, every single item in my letter failed to materialise.

I decided that planning was a complete waste of time, gave it all up as a bad idea and carried on with my life.

Until a couple of years ago when, after hearing Michael Hyatt speak at WDS, I decided to give his Best Year Ever programme a try. I did all the exercises (on paper and everything. I didn’t just write them in my head!) and came to the conclusion as a result that 2015 was not to be the year of fiction for me. I simply couldn’t fit it in with all the other stuff I was going to do!

What do you think happened this time around? Long time readers will still be laughing because, after a few months of ignoring the fiction, by November it all got too much and I started work on my first novella series. I ended 2015 celebrating the best year ever because I was finally a published author, but still none of the stuff I’d written down at the start of the year had come true.

Seriously, what gives?!?

Is, as I was starting to suspect, this planning lark little more than throwing spaghetti at a wall, waiting to see what sticks? Or could this big, amazing God of ours who purports to love us so much, actually have some way to guide us in the right direction?

And what does “right direction” mean anyway? Right for who?!?

Am I little more than a puppet on a string, being dragged around wherever the puppet master might have me go, or might I actually have some say in the matter?

After starting the fiction in November I decided that that was it for me and faith work. I’d been around the block way too many times trying to figure out what this work was that I was meant to be doing. That was it. I was done. And I meant it, I really did. I finished the novella series in March and already had ideas for what I would write next, a full length novel this time. Life was feeling great!

And then, much like what happened with the fiction in November 2015, the faith work started niggling at me again.

And you know what happens to a niggle when you try and ignore it? It does one of two things. Sometimes it packs up and goes away. And other times it simply gets louder and more persistent. I went from dead website to fully-fledged new thing up and running and ready to share with the wider world in the space of two weeks. It was crazy!

Having gone through this experience twice now, I’m more convinced than ever before that those niggles, those things that keep on itching at you and will not let you go, are God speaking, trying to get your attention. To remind you that there are things in your life that he would love to have a play at with you.

But the even better thing I came to realise?

The stuff that niggles at you is always, without exception, linked to the very best version of you. The ‘you on a good day’ you. In the flow, doing work that lights you up and leaves you feeling purposeful and inspired. God never niggles at you to do stuff you hate. He doesn’t coerce you into trying hard at something that should really be on your stop doing list. It’s always the cool, wonderful, brilliant stuff.

All of which led me to conclude that, yes your life really is your own, but you’re also part of a bigger plan.

They’re not two distinct entities. They’re actually part of one and the same thing. How cool is that?!?

All of which leaves me with just one more question …

What are those things that are niggling at you? What’s it going to take for you to move forward with them?

(Oooops, yes, you got me – that was actually two questions!)