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My Plan<God’s Plan

‘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

This has been one of my favorite (at most times my very favorite) Bible verses since I was around seven or eight years old.  When I was younger, I worried about everything and Jeremiah 29:11 was one of the first verses my mom shared with me to help me deal with that struggle.  I would worry myself to the point that it would make me sick!  And most of my worries were completely irrational.  I didn’t eat beef for over a year purely because I was afraid that mad cow disease was going to end up in the United States and kill me.  I now realize how completely ridiculous that was, but at the time, it made sense to me.  I thought that as long as I had control, I would not worry.  Man, was I wrong.  I was still a “worrier” many years after that and Jeremiah 29:11 was my go-to verse for a quick-fix.

Now, I don’t want to point fingers at anyone, but I am pretty sure that I can safely say: I am not the only person who has ever used this verse as an immediate source of comfort when life isn’t going according to plan.  When you fail a class, when your dad loses his job, when your girlfriend breaks up with you, or when you simply don’t know where to go next, my guess is you wrote that verse on a post-it (mine was taped to my bedroom wall).  For quite some time, reading this single verse made a huge difference in my life.  My understanding was, “God only wants good things for my life.  Nothing bad will ever happen to me because I love God.”  There is no doubt in my mind that God has a beautiful plan for each and every person that loves Him and I am, in no way, trying to downplay the power of scripture, or say that we have all turned this verse into something it is not, but I know that my appreciation and understanding of this verse has completely changed over the past ten years.  I think it is time for me to take the context of this verse into consideration so that I can fully understand the gift of it.

I will be the first person to admit that I use the Bible like I use a textbook.  I go looking for the answers that I feel I need to know, no more, no less.  This is a habit that I am working on breaking and I am starting with Jeremiah 29:11.

I know that some people who love God, still struggle letting go of their own plans in order to allow His to unfold (I am undoubtedly one of them).   This year has by far been the most challenging year of my life in several different ways and through each challenge, I poured my heart out to God.  Some of the pouring was “thank you’s” for all of the blessings that do not fade even when other things seem to be blocking them from my sight, but some of it was filled with question: “Why?!”  I would think back to all of the verses telling me that God works for the good of those who love Him, the verses telling me to trust Him because He knows what’s best, and the verses telling me that He has prosperous plans for me.  I spent time questioning what was happening and searching for answers.

I thought seriously about why I was going through certain struggles and realized how clear it was that some of my struggles were there because I was not following God’s plan, but my own.  There are certain areas in my life that I still want to control and I am still learning how to let go of them.  Realizing how silly I was to believe that some of my difficulties were a result of God’s plan instead of a result of my own selfish desires, lead me to discover two things:

1. It is impossible to passively live while following God’s plan.

2. I need to make my definition of prosper match God’s idea of prosper.

When I am not actively listening, actively learning, and actively obeying God, I am not actively living out God’s plan for me.  I am a person who is obviously flawed, which means I have to rely on God to direct my steps if I want the prosperous life that He wants for me.  Relying on God means living for Him and not living to fulfill my selfish desires without surrender.  While reading more of the book of Jeremiah, it is clear that when people live for the world, there are repercussions!  We can’t live for the world and expect all of our outcomes to be from heaven.

God’s definition of prosper may not always look like the world’s definition of prosper.  In life, we are going to learn lessons that are sometimes difficult.  Life is not easy, and we will run into trouble, but that is not the end of our story.  Just because we struggle, does not mean we aren’t prospering; we are learning about God’s strength and love for us.  He knows our needs and supplies for them (I have to remind myself that extra cash to go shopping is definitely not a need).  Prospering is a healthy thing!  I think God knows our health better than anyone and will not hesitate to show us what is truly healthy for us and what is not!  He wants us to prosper from what is of Him, and that may not look like what we want it to sometimes.

Re-visiting my favorite verse after putting it into context made me love it even more.  God has wonderful plans for us and when we actively seek Him and His guidance, He is faithful and reveals them.  We prosper from His plans far more than we prosper from our own.  I know that I can still read this verse, be comforted, and live my life without worry; not because my life will be filled with only good things and no bad things, but because I have a Heavenly Father who takes care of me.  I can surrender my own plans, give up control, and rely on Him to get me through each day.

By: Olivia Beam 6/7/12

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