“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
I love plans. I thrive off plans. They give me peace and a sense of direction. I am not really a “spur of the moment” type of person. Now my husband is completely the opposite. He floats through life, catching the wind as it blows, excited for where he might land.
Let me give you an example: on our honeymoon I made “plans” and got us into the bridal suite. We stayed there the first night but my husband thought it would be fun to take a ferry to the nearby islands the next day. It was fun. But since he didn’t get a motel reservation we ended up spending the night in our car on the ferry because there were zero rooms available. A convention was in the area. That went over well.
It is also the same with directions. I use to constantly have to do everything exactly by the book. As the years have slipped by I have realized that not everything has to be done according to some unseen book. Yet, general directions are given for a purpose. Without reading the directions my husband decided to build a swing set in the backyard. After he was done he realized that a couple of pieces were not connected properly and that there were extra parts he wasn’t sure what to do with. He looked at me with a sheepish grin and said, “Perhaps I should have read the directions.”
Throughout the adventures of our lives together we have seen the importance of both aspects. And we have changed some viewpoints that we thought were cemented in our personalities.
When I was a little girl my parents moved many times. I didn’t question their purpose or decisions; I just went for the ride. I never knew that there were occasions when they didn’t have definite plans or that they were not always sure about the future. I was just a happy child and simply trusted that whatever they decided to do would be in my best interest. (Of course I didn’t analyze it at the time.) Later in life I discovered that there were times that their only option was to trust God and not themselves, as they entered into the next chapter of their lives.
Unfortunately we are not given a map for every choice we make in life. We are not told to go here for 2 years, then take this job, marry this person, put your kids in this school and perhaps go on a mission trip during this season…blah, blah, blah…
In fact James 4: 13-15 states, ” Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit. Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you out to say, “If the Lord WILLS we will live and do this or that.” (ESV)
We often ask “Lord what is your will?” God says that HE has a plan for us. HE holds the plans for each of our lives. And he states that HIS plans are for our good. There are times I have mentioned to God that I just wish he would hand over those plans. It would be so much easier to navigate through my life if I could simply look at the plans.
Instead he desires for us to trust him and relax in his goodness just like I trusted my parents. I didn’t have a care in the world, except maybe what my new school would be like or who my new friends would be.
He doesn’t always give us a complete picture regarding our future. Sometimes it might start as a desire that begins to stir in our hearts, a thought that crosses our mind, a dream that we had the night before or a longing that cannot be quenched. As soon as we pray about a decision and take a step in that direction, the stirring becomes more evident and doors of opportunity begin to open to make the desire a reality.
The Psalmist states, ” The steps of good men are directed by the Lord. He delights in each step they take.” Psalm 37:23 (TLB)
He delights in OUR steps! It is like parents that watches their toddler take his first step. They watch him with eagerness and anticipation. And when the child falls they pick him back up and encourage him in his next step.
If God gave us everything at once we wouldn’t need his hand of guidance. We would become self-sufficient and may not seek his advise for direction. We would lose communication with the one that loves us more than anyone can. He created us in his image. He desires that we seek him. He desires that we commune with him. He desires that we dig into his Word (the directions for this life) and get to know him, personally.
He doesn’t give us a bunch of dos and don’ts. He gives us relationship and guidance and comfort and peace and direction. And as much as he delights in our steps he asks us to learn to delight in him. Like I mentioned earlier, he created us in his image. He wants a two-way relationship with us.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord: trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37: 4-5 (ESV)
Do you recall the game, Marco Polo? One person closes his eyes and says, “Marco”. The others say, “Polo”. Even though the person who is “it” cannot see the other players he follows the voices until he is able to tag another player.
Though not completely the same, it is what we are doing. We may have a blindfold on in life, yet we listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit and follow his lead. When we come to the place where the Holy Spirit leads doors begin to open for us. As we fellowship with the Lord we learn the sound of his voice. He may call us down another path as we enter our next chapter in life.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.” John 10:27 (NIV)
It is similar to the children of Israel that wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. The spirit of God led them by a pillar of cloud during the day and fire by night. (Exodus 13:21) That same God leads each of us in our lives, as well.
Listen. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you? Is he calling your name? Is he leading you in a new direction? You can trust that what he starts in you he will surely complete. (Philippians 1:6)
One day as we look into our past we will see the many doors we traveled through that led us directly into God’s arms. We will be thankful for the doors the Lord opened and the doors that sometimes felt slammed in our faces. We will be grateful that the Lord in his goodness, ordered our steps and grateful that we obeyed his calling; and extremely grateful that he picked us up when we fell.