Follow God’s plan, not your own.
Do I have faith? Do I trust in God’s plans for me? God let me suffer through serious depression and darkness, but each of those phases brought me right back to him. Do I believe that God will give me 100 fold what he has taken away? Sure, in heaven. But what about here, in daily life? Do I believe that God’s majesty shapes my life daily, even when it’s rough going?
How I wish that I could measure things like God does– or at least understand the logic behind His reasoning. Like how God measures my worth as opposed to how I measure my own worth.
Through trial and error I know that God’s plans for me are sovereign, but as a broken human, running back and forth between light and dark seems to be engrained in my being. I just want to TRUST God and it is difficult. However, God never said it would be easy. It is lifelong journey, and perhaps the most difficult moments of it will yield the most lush fruit.
As I was writing all of this, in a little coffee shop, I ran into a girl I had not seen for over a year. Mel was in line to get coffee and I was 99% sure it was her but I didn’t want to say anything for fear of awkwardness. I know Mel through church. About a year and a half ago we were in the same mission group on a church trip in New Orleans. Through the sharing of testimonies, I learned a great deal about Mel and she about me and eventually due to another girl’s reaching out, Mel joined my small group. Mel was only there for a few weeks because soon her situation got so bad that she needed to go to live-in rehab in Georgia. See, Mel has a long and thorny history with drugs, depression, hospitalization, anxiety, and eating disorders. The last time I saw Mel was actually in this same coffee shop and we were discussing our struggles with depression and catching up, but soon after she went off to a different intensive inpatient program in Kansas.
To sum all that up, Mel has not had an easy time. But Mel wasn’t as fearful as I, and today came up to me to say hi. I am so glad that she did. We didn’t talk for long, but I had the pleasure of hearing that Mel is back living with her parents here in her home-state, and is encouraging her brother to get involved with her in the church. A true picture of God’s plan unfolding and conquering darkness along the way.
I don’t say things like this often, but I think that this brief interaction between us today was “A God Thing.”
God has brought Mel to a better place. That isn’t to say that she won’t struggle again, but he has brought her to a better place. And that was so good for me to see. It is hard to understand God’s plans, but I don’t think we are really supposed to. Whatever turmoil Mel has endured, God has walked her through it and is already using her journey to bless others (like encouraging her brother to get involved in Christian community).
I don’t need to understand God’s ways, I just need to aim to love him and accept his grace and know that his plans are beautiful.
All of this reminded me of a story in Genesis that I was reading recently– the story of Lot and his wife. I will post the excerpt from my NIV Bible here to save you the trouble of looking it up (plus writing down the words sinks them deeper into my mind and spirit).
“So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons thought he was joking.
With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished!”
When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them saide, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!
But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! Your servant has found favor in your eyes and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it– it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”
He said to him, “very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)
By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah– from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities– and also the vegetation in the land. ButLot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward al the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.
So, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.”
— Genesis 19:14-20
The story and tragedy of Lot’s wife is a prime example of how essential following God’s plan is, however ridiculous and unfair it may seem.
How easy it is to blindly take for granted the proof of God’s good promises in our daily life. God knew that Lot and his family were believers and followers of Him and so he paved a path for them to avoid destruction. Of course, the cost of this was leaving behind their home and their friends and the material things that they owned. Leaving it all behind, understanding how evil it all was, and never looking back. There is always a “catch” such as this. God offers wonderful things to us, but we have some sort of attachment to earthly things that we don’t want to sacrifice. I am reminded of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God gave these two humans a lush and beautiful world to thrive in, only so long as they didn’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve, of course, at from this tree and suffered grave consequences. Eve had her own plan for herself, somehow, which included following her own plan and not the Lord’s. Similarly, Lot’s wife, when leaving Sodom, disobediently looked back and was turned to a pillar of salt. Lot’s wife was aware of God’s plan for her and her family to thrive in a healthier land than Sodom. But she followed her will and chose her own plan for herself, not trusting in God’s goodness.
In each of these cases, God’s plan was clearly sovereign. But you and I have been in similar situations in which we are called to choose God’s plan or our plan, and somehow God’s plan suddenly doesn’t look so brilliant… it is the fog of sin blurring our vision.
We are indeed sinners and temptation and evil will grab at us every chance they get and try to pull us from God.
While we are sinners, however, God’s love for us and God’s plans for us remain strong and beautiful. There is no level of sin that Christ will not forgive, and there is nothing that can ever separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39).
Don’t be discouraged, friends! I am in the exact same boat as you in which daily, sometimes even hourly, I have to actively choose between my plan and God’s plan.
God is painfully mysterious, and still indescribably righteous.