I am a part of God's plan

God’s Plan . . .

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. ~Proverbs 16:9, NLT

I’m thinking again about the little girl we talked about on Monday. Remember, she ran her race and was scooped up into strong arms? Such an image, though several days have passed, will not leave my mind. I think God is using her to tell me something—and it’s probably important.

I have this idea in my head of how my life should work out. Strangely, though, it doesn’t follow the course I’ve charted. Right now, in a season of waiting and wondering what’s next, all I really know for sure is that God has a plan, and there’s a finish line I’m supposed to be pursuing. The frustrating part is that I’m not sure where it is or what the map really looks like.

I think that little girl felt that way on the day of that track meet. Remember, she has issues with vision. But that didn’t stop her. She kept going forward, well, mostly forward, and when she got too far off track, her para was right there, redirecting her progress. And when it was all said and done, she finished. Not first, last, but well. She finished well.

What does this tell me? First, there is a course. A plan mapped out, even if I can’t see the whole thing. Next, the Holy Spirit is with me, guiding me just as that para ran beside our little finisher. And finally, God the Father is waiting to receive me at the end—even if I come in dead last.

Has anything about this little girl’s race spoken to you?

I am a part of God's plan

God’s Plan, God’s Will

Be at peace among yourselves. And we exhort you, brothers: warn those who are lazy, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always purse what is good for one another and for all.  Rejoice always.  Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:13-18

I can’t think about being a part of God’s plan without running into the concept of “God’s Will.”  I capitalized that on purpose, because so many Christians, including myself, tend to capitalize it in our hearts.  Surely, we think, God has a plan for me, a specific plan, so I need to spend lots of time worrying and praying over which college to attend, which person to marry, which job to take.  If I don’t get it right, I might be out of “God’s Will.” 

But I’m not sure it works that way.  He pretty clearly lays out His Will right in these verses:

  1. Be at peace among yourselves
  2. Warn the lazy.
  3. Comfort the discouraged.
  4. Help the weak.
  5. Be patient with everyone.
  6. Don’t pay back evil with evil.
  7. Pursue what is good for one another.
  8. Rejoice always.
  9. Pray constantly.
  10. Give thanks in everything.

Nowhere in there does he say I’ve got to pick the “right” spouse or job or country in which to live.  But rather, wherever I live, wherever I work, I need to treat others around me in these ways.

And if I do, I am joining God in His plan.  When I choose not to repay an evil, I am showing my offender God’s grace – undoubtedly His will for my life and the life of the guy who did me wrong. When I am patient with my children, I am joining God in his plan to rear them to adore a patient God. When I comfort a weeping friend, when I help a struggling student, when I make decisions with others in mind instead of just my own gain – I am following God’s will, joining in his plan.  Who else will comfort that woman if I do not?  It is God’s Will that she be comforted.

The other stuff, the big, life-changing decisions, well, if God has an opinion on those, He’ll certainly let me know.  Sometimes, He does.  But if He doesn’t speak from Heaven, I think I can exercise my right as a daughter of the King. Sometimes, a princess gets to pick whatever she likes best, as long as the choice doesn’t go outside of God’s boundaries found in His Bible. 

It’s living in the aftermath of those choices that show whether I am truly following God’s will.  In this job, the one I chose, will I treat my coworkers compassionately?  With this husband, the one I chose, will I put his needs before my own?

Father, may I join you in your plan today, right where I am at. Show me Your Will.

I am a part of God's plan

Being a Part of God’s Plan is Hard Work

When he saw the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few.  Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” Matt 9:36-38 HCSB

Alcoholism. Poverty. Apathy. Deception. God has a plan to lead sufferers out of these things, to lead them to Himself.  Life-sucking sin and bondage is never his plan.  His plan is freedom.

And he wants you and me to do something about it, to get up, get involved, make a difference, labor to see His plan accomplished.  It takes work.  It takes sacrifice.  It takes dedication.

And too often, I’m simply too tired from my own day, filled with my own worries, to bother with it.  I fell into this mire of me-ness, I think, when we returned to the States.  My whole purpose for being in Africa was to join God in his plan to rescue the perishing.  So I did it.  It made no sense to live there and not labor in God’s field there.  But in the States?  It’s easier to just focus on middle-school band concerts and carpools and what to fix for dinner.  Those things can fill my life to the point that, sometimes, there isn’t room for the other. For God’s plan.  For being a worker in the harvest.

That isn’t God’s plan for me, or for you.  He wants both of us to join Him in His plan.  Work isn’t always fun.  Sometimes it’s just … work.  West African farmers labor under the unrelenting sun to eek rice or millet out of their fields not because it’s fun, but because it’s necessary. So my goal doesn’t need to be my own satisfaction or enjoyment. It needs to be accomplishing God’s goal.

Father, make me a worker in your harvest.  And send many to join me.

I am a part of God's plan

I am a Part of God’s Plan: A Joint Post

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us . . .” Hebrews 12:1, NASB

From Jen:

I’m often mystified by this idea that God has a plan while at the same time I chose how to live my life. An astounding juxtaposition, if you’re inclined to give it careful thought, and not one I can give an account for. I won’t try here. But I saw something the other day that drew my thoughts toward that—hopefully you can follow.

My kindergarten son had his end-of-the year track meet yesterday, and there was a race that made me cry. He wasn’t even in it, but even now, just thinking about it, I’m tearing up.

See, there’s a little girl among the many five and six-year-olds who is unique. We call them special needs now. I think this darlin’ is just special, though. She lined up on the field for the short race, alongside her para-professional, because among her many challenges in life, she is visually impaired and nearly deaf. Taking her mark, the gym teacher yelled ‘go,’ and the kids were off. She straggled behind, running helter-skelter all over the half a football width course, redirected often by her para-pro, and came in a long dead last. But that wasn’t what yanked tears out of me.

Over half of the staff stood near the finish line, cheering our sweet little princess on. The group, including the children that had finished, erupted with cheers. And—here’s the best part–our principal, who is a large man—a former Marine with the capacity to intimidate a full-grown adult, not to mention a small child (but, it’s worth noting here, he does not. At all. He knows them all by name, and those kids adore him—I know because my son will tug on  my hand, should we chance come across him, and say, ‘Mommy, there’s Mr. Garcia. Can I go say hi?’), this man reached down and scooped the girl in his arms, giving her a heroic high-five and a well-done hug.

I cried. I’m still crying.

I don’t think there was a single kid on that field who didn’t wish they were her at that moment. And who could blame them—wouldn’t you?

From Susan:

That child was congratulated because she gave it her all.  She ran with endurance. She did the best she could with the resources she had.  She was not in competition with the children around her.  Her goal was singular: to finish the race, not to win it.

So, too, should our goal be.  We should not be comparing ourselves to the Christians around us, the ones with better eyesight, stronger legs or more glamorous spiritual gifts.  We should run our best, to the best of the abilities Christ has given us.  And if we do that, when we cross the finish line, we’ll receive a welcome that would make even burly Mr. Garcia weep.

Oh, to be swept into the arms of my savior and receive His praise.

I am secure

I am Secure: Safe in His Providential Care

time in hand“But as for me, I trust in you, oh Lord… My times are in your hands.”

~Psalm 31:14-15a, NASB

This little nugget of beauty is stuck in the middle of a lament. The verse before ends with “they scheme to take away my life.”

Some wonder how one can live with hope when they are surrounded by despair. Here is the anchor, the hand-hold on truth:  My times are in God’s hands. And this God is mighty in power, gentle in spirit, loving at heart and good in all He does. Though thunder rolls and waves crash and fires blaze all around, my life is kept secure in the immutable hand of God. Things may not make sense from where I stand, but His plan is sure and will not be thwarted.

I often listen to Alistair Begg while I’m on the elliptical at our local YMCA, and this week I went through his series called “my times are in your hands,” which came straight from Psalm 31. I loved what he had to say about this verse, this security.

“I am not trapped in the grip of blind force.”

In other words, my life is not shackled to an ambivalent fate. My life, my everyday living and doing; my past, my present and my future is held fast by the very hands of creation.