To begin to answer that question, I need to start you on a mind bender that we will keep coming back to.
God, and Therefore Heaven, Exists Outside Of Our Timeline
Thinking about this can make your brain hurt because we have no frame-of-reference for something that is not bound by time.
This might help: hold a pen (or something similar) at arm’s length. As you can see the entire pen, that is how God sees our timeline. There is a beginning and an end. You can see everything that is it in between those points. The entire pen is in your field of view.
From this vantage point, God is fully aware—in a single instance—of the results of each freewill choice you have, are, and will make during your ENTIRE lifetime.
To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore, He establishes His eternal plan of ‘predestination’, He includes in it each person’s free response to His grace” Catechism of the Catholic Church, 600
What Does A Timeline Have To Do Predestination
The idea of predestination is almost as old as the Church. The use of the term predestination in theology was popularized by John Calvin just after the Reformation. Generally speaking, he believed God created certain groups of humans go to Hell, like the population in Hell needs to reach a certain quota before Christ returns. The Church considers this heresy:
God predestines no one to go to hell, for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1037
God does not send anyone to Hell. God honors a person’s freewill choice of where they will spend eternity. No one wakes in Hell surprised; maybe not happy, but not surprised.
Those following Calvin’s thinking use hubris (bad pride) in an attempt to make themselves appear better than others. They misuse Matthew 22:14 and other passages to justify their position. All are invited to the table of salvation; many RSVP with a yes; few are willing to accept the standards necessary for salvation. That’s why we need to go out and help them live according to Christ’s standards through re-evangelization.
Getting back to predestination: when people say God already has a plan for your life—that is what is meant by the word predestination—it is because God has already seen your entire life played out through the freedom of your choices.
Confused? Grab your pen and hold it near the monitor before reading the next paragraph.
God sees our entire timeline like that pen. Everything in the history, present, and future of our universe is occurring right now just like you can see everything about that pen when you at it.
God’s plan for your life was not decided before God created you. As CCC 600 says “[when God] establishes His eternal plan of ‘predestination’, He includes in it each person’s free response to His grace“.
God created a plan for you based on future events of your choosing that have already occurred — hey look: I don’t need a PhD in Theology to write confusing sentences.
Predestination Is Confusing
Predestination is confusing because the word means to make a determination before something occurs. In our time-based thinking, we understand that to mean that before our birth, God made a plan of how we should live and where we will spend eternity. I hope I have shown you that is completely false. God’s plans are made outside of the limitation of time.
All that time invested watching Doctor Who seems to be paying off after all.
Thought To Ponder
Knowing that God has already seen your entire life played out and has developed a plan for you based on your life, are you willing to follow that plan?
Please put your answer below so we can get the conversation started.