The unexpected happens, causing us to change course. Or we take the next rights steps we know to take, but we end up at a different place than we thought we would. Or we don’t know what steps to take or where to go, uncertain and unsure about the future.
Scripture is full of the assurance that God has a plan for each one of our lives. Scripture is also full of the assurance that God’s knows and holds our future. And Scripture is full of the assurance that God works all things, even the hard and heartbreaking things, according to His plan.
One of the most well-known verses that speaks of God’s plans for us is Jeremiah 29:11:
“‘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.’”
God spoke this reassurance to His people while they were living in exile, and would be for 70 years. This is probably not what the Israelites had in mind for a future of hope, goodness, and prosperity.
Israel was in exile because they had chosen to disobey the Lord. They chose their plans over His. They got off track, and God was carrying out His plan of redemption to bring them back into right relationship with Him.
As He says in verses 12-14, “‘Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.’”
It’s okay for us to make plans and dream dreams and set goals, but ultimately, it’s the Lord’s purposes that will prevail. Ultimately, we are to be seeking His will, walking in His ways, living in relationship with Him.
When life doesn’t go as we planned, when God’s plans are different from ours, when we’re unsure of what the plan or purpose or bigger picture is, we have choices to make:
Choosing to surrender
We can choose to hold onto our plans with closed fists, striving to make things happen according to our timing and will, or we can choose to surrender our plans to God, allowing Him to bring things about according to His timing and will.
Surrender is a daily choice. New ideas, dreams, and opportunities are constantly arising. Circumstances and situations are constantly changing. Each time, we must choose, who will be in control?
Choosing to trust
Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”
We can choose to put our trust in our own understanding and abilities, we can choose to put our trust in our relationship status or our career, we can choose to put our trust in any number of earthly things, or we can choose to put our trust in God.
We can trust that God’s plan for us is perfect, good, and loving, and that He will bring it about in the best way.
Choosing to obey
Proverbs 3 goes on to say, “In all your ways submit to [the Lord], and He will make your paths straight.” (v. 6)
In all your ways, submit to God’s way.
We can choose to do things our own way, or we can choose to obey God - taking the next step He calls us to take, even if we’re not sure where He leading us, even if it seems to being going away from our dreams and plans.
In all your ways, submit to God’s way, and He will make a way. As we obey, God will lead and guide, He will provide and equip, He will bless and bring about His goodness for us, to the glory of His Name.
Choosing to rejoice
There were many times when the Israelites chose to grumble and complain about how God was leading and providing for them. This grumbling was a lack of trust that often led them to disobedience.
As we follow God’s leading, we can either choose to complain in discontent about the things that are missing or aren’t perfect or aren’t what we want, or we can choose to rejoice, giving thanks and praise to God for His promises and provision and perfect Character in the midst of the imperfect.
Rejoicing is a choice - a daily choice. It’s not simply a feeling of happiness, it’s an attitude that says no matter how we are feeling, we are going to praise God and find our joy in Him.
Because of the assurance that God has a plan, that He holds the future, and that He is working for good according to His purpose, we can choose to surrender to Him, to trust Him, to obey Him, and to rejoice in Him.