Are God’s purposes an absolute or an invitation? Does God have one and only one set of plans for me? A plan that I can mess up?
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”1
This verse was one I have declared and prayed often. I needed to understand it more, so I did some research. The Hebrew word translated as plans in this verse is מַחֲשָׁבָה or maḥăšāḇâ and means thought, device, purpose, work, imagination, cunning, invention, or curious work.2 This word describes the work of the craftsmen designing the meeting tent in the book of Exodus.
God’s plans are not a set path I can mess up or miss. Instead, this verse conveys how God dreamed of and created us with a specific intention, ingenuity, beauty, and design to be a dwelling place for his spirit. God’s imagination is boundless and unlimited! Yet, how often have I approached God with the belief that his plans were limited to one idea, one route, and very intricate and specific steps to get to the good future and hope promised? That if I mess up, I miss everything, even God.
Here is the truth God showed me: I cannot miss God if I seek him, and he will not lose sight of me.3
You and I are eternal beings, dwelling both outside of time and inside of it. We are both spiritual and physical beings. God is not restricted by place or time. He is at the beginning of my story and the end. He sees every desire and decision. He knows every impact that brokenness has had on my heart. He has gone ahead of me, carving out new paths to guide me to the finish line. He goes behind me, bringing closure to the good and bad chapters that tempt me to remain in the past. He is awaiting my next step, my next choice. And he knows what I will choose because he’s been in my future already and made the way good.
God starts our story with so much curiosity, imagination, and intention. He anticipates how we will use the gifts and the building materials he has given us.
Life is not easy, but it can be good. I found myself in a story that I never imagined. I dug deep in my heart and soul to hold onto trust that it was not the end. I refused to entertain hopeless or faithless thoughts. I continued to show up, allowing God, counselors, and friends to write life into my story. Knowing God was already in my future gave me hope; the story would be beautiful.
Belief invites God into our story even as emotions and logic scream that’s a terrible idea. Belief knows that I can trust God to get me through any storm.
I believe that God is good and does only good.4 Yet there were times when I struggled with this truth. Maybe God does need to allow bad things to make me good. It’s tempting to believe that suffering is part of his plan rather than seeing the story of others bumping painfully into mine.
I find it interesting that Jesus seems more concerned with our unbelief than our sins. Belief is trust that God is good and does only good. Trusting that he will do what he says he will do. Trust that he is who he says he is. Trust is not just a creed. It is action and movement. If I say I believe God is good, then I must do something with that. I wake up ready to build, create, and grow. I enter my day full of love and the ability to be kind and generous to others when I trust God. Trust also keeps me safe from the allure of choosing things that promise relief from suffering but bring destruction.
Attempting to write a beautiful story comes with risk. I will be disappointed and hurt as things do not unfold as I had hoped. Setbacks and failures that seem insurmountable are opportunities to quit. I may conclude that God never wanted me to be a creator in my story. I could believe that no matter how or what I contributed, I could not change my future. I know many who have surrendered their pen to these lies.
Instead, I chose belief: trusting that God wants me to build, create, and grow. Some people with the life will be what it will be mentality wrongly call their inaction waiting on God. Sitting idly by, hoping, even praying, that a thriving business, healthy family, or great relationships will manifest. This approach has not worked for me, nor has it been successful for those I’ve watched waiting and praying for God to do their part. If I am honest, I would rather be rescued from my story than become a powerful contributor.
It is time to show up bravely, turn the page, and begin to write again. I must get up each day, pen in hand, ready to create and build. I invite God to write and create His desire in me while I, pen in hand, dream, design, and build what is in my heart. I don’t always know where the supplies or help will come from. God has given me a hope-filled vision of my future, and I can entrust the outcome to him.
It is so easy to be stuck and not realize it. I have decided to no longer excuse, spiritualize, or normalize being stuck. A victim normalizes and excuses inaction and unbelief. When I find myself approaching a problem with powerlessness, I must choose to shift my perspective, look to Jesus, and entrust myself to him. This isn’t always easy. I could decide it’s not God’s time, as my habits and unbelief keep me from taking a step into the future. Or, I could make excuses – God knows my heart – as my pain runs over the people I set out to love. Instead, I choose to apologize, humble myself and admit a mistake. I choose to be honest about why I am not growing or moving forward in an area. And allow the truth to illuminate lies, habits, and fears that are keeping me from what I say I believe.
God is limitless and designed each one of us perfectly. The only thing that will stop you or me from writing the beautiful life he dreamed of is if we remain stuck in a broken past, lies, or unbelief.
Do you have a promise or prophecy from God that you are sitting on? Waiting to be recognized, healed, or given that promotion? What step of faith could you take today to partner with God in your story?
- Jeremiah 29:11 NLT
- “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” Jeremiah 29:13-14 NLT
- You are good and do only good; teach me your decrees. Psalms 119:68 NLT