“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
When I was new to the faith, I obtained a copy of the journal “Seek First” from The Point to help me learn more about God. One of the verses that stood out to me in the journal was Jeremiah 29:11. For a new believer, it’s a verse that makes you feel good when you’re in a bad situation. That verse carried me through my time of anxieties about dying and uncertainties about finances. On the surface, it seemed to mean God would give me a bright future where everything would go well and I could look forward to a lifetime of happiness, good health, and prosperity.
However, it was not until more recently that I read the verses before and after to truly understand its meaning. Jeremiah was writing to the people of God who were exiled from Jerusalem into an enemy’s territory. Jeremiah 29:11 would surely bring comfort to those who were in that situation. But before verse 11, God asked His people to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf” (V. 7). The last thing that I would want to do when I am in an enemy’s territory is to pray for my enemy and wish goodness upon him. Not only that, but God said that he would fulfill the promise after 70 years. 70 years is a long time for me, and some people at that time wouldn’t even be alive in another 70 years. It is with that knowledge that I suddenly realized “the plans I have for you” are not the same as “the plans that Randy has for himself.” The plans that I have for my future might not be aligned with God’s plans for me. It was God’s plan to send His people into exile and it was God’s plan to bring them back to their homeland after 70 years of praying to Him and seeking Him with all their hearts. I need to put my plans into His hands and have God as the center of them. After all, God is in control; God provides for the birds of the air (Matthew 6:26) so surely He will provide for us because of His love for us. It is still hard for me at times, especially recently, when my plans to become healthy after I was sick for a while didn’t come into fruition right away. But it is through God’s timing and growth during the difficult trials that I get to know more about God and become closer to Him like the Jewish people did.
When I was in college, I frequently prayed for a girlfriend, even though I didn’t really know who God was. I had always been single, so I figured prayer couldn’t hurt. About five long years later, I met a girl who helped me really get to know God and have a personal relationship with Him. That girl later became my wife. I never would have known that the girl that I prayed for would help me to have a true relationship with God and I am forever thankful for it. God will come up with far bigger and better plans that we can ever imagine and I am grateful to have such a good Father who is faithful to me to be the Planner of my life.
Can you think of a time in your life when God changed your plans and led you down a different path? How did you grow in your faith through God’s redirection? As you anticipate the future, how you can be flexible and open to God’s leading?
Lord God, thank you for being an awesome Father and a Provider. Thank you for Your wisdom and that You knew the plans for each of my days before I was even born. I pray that you can use my time of waiting to grow in my relationship with You. I pray for a heart of obedience and trust as I align my plans with Your plans. I am willing to let