Future goals… projected deadlines… plans. There’s much to say about being prepared for what is to come and to make plans accordingly. Whether it is for personal aspirations, life goals with your spouse, or a business quota for the year, plans are important and in many instances, necessary.
What do you do when your plans seem not to work out the way you want? How do you respond when you cannot see what is ahead?
I experienced an illustration of not seeing well last week as I walked my dog Carmel late one evening. Fog is quite unusual for Los Angeles, so I enjoyed the nightly chore as I embraced the mystery that fog brings (See picture I took below). As we passed through the neighborhoods, it was apparent that we could not see more than 75 feet ahead of us. Even though we have walked this route plenty of times, my dog kept wanting to go back. It’s as if he was afraid of what was ahead because he could not see. We had not finished our walk, so I kept pressing on until we completed our route and went back home.
With a current political climate and COVID-19 cases continuing, 2021 can feel like traversing through thick fog. Although it’s a new year, circumstances from the past still need to be dealt with. Plans are put on hold while future goals are loosely held as they can change any minute. It can be difficult to move forward because you cannot see as clearly as in previous times past. What is one to do?
There’s a Scripture verse that deals directly with the situation we are all facing. The Israelites were in dire straits as they had just gone into captivity for 70 years. Although the Lord had warned them time and time again, judgment had come because of their sin. Whatever plans the Israelites had were thrown out the window as they are taken captive into a foreign land. They were shaken by what took place and could not envision what was up ahead. Here is what God told his prophet, Jeremiah, to say to the people:
“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.” – Jeremiah 29:11
The Lord has YOUR plans in His hands, even if you cannot see it, grasp it, or understand it! Just think: God knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-16), and He has prepared in advance His good works for you (Ephesians 2:10). Therefore, even if you feel that your plans are ‘on hold’ or you have no sense of direction so far, trust in God! Cling to Christ and build yourself up in His Word, for here is what He says about His plans for you:
—> Plans to prosper you – The Lord wants you to be successful. It is to the Father’s glory that you “bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be [Jesus’] disciples” (John 15:8). Taking a part of the Spirit-led life is not meant to be one of misery but is to amount to much fruit, fruit that will last (John 15:16). Christ wants you to prosper in your relationships, reflecting the image of the Son. He wants you to flourish in your career and schooling, being faithful in all things. The Lord wants you to be who you were created to be, filled with the victories, triumphs, and steps in your sanctification that prospering entails.
—> Plans to not harm you – If you are currently experiencing a time of suffering, loss, rejection – all to be summed up as ‘trials’ – He could be doing a good work in you. God is not out to hurt you but wants to help you. As long as you are not intentional and habitually living in sin, God is pruning you to be more effective. Jesus says that every branch (believer) that bears fruit He prunes so that the person can be even more fruitful (John 15:2). Let me tell you… pruning hurts! Yet it’s for Christ to radiate through you and for God to get the glory. Don’t resist the shears if the Father wants to trim a few branches – accept that the hardships you are facing are for good, working towards God’s purposes (Romans 8:28).
—> Plans to give you a hope – We hope in Christ, and hope does not put us to shame (Romans 5:5). The power of hope is an expectant confidence in what God will do… even if the circumstances seem bleak, and the pathway is unclear. It is a time to trust that God will lead the way through the fog, and His plans will be made known soon enough. (For more on hope, read ‘Between A Rock And A Hard Place’).
—> Plans to give you a future – It is tempting to become so focused on the anxieties of the present that we neglect the future. At the same time, it’s possible to have angst about the future because of the current conditions. Either way, God has the best plans for you regarding your future. “He [God] who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). In other words, God is not done with you yet! The Holy Spirit is about perfecting and pruning you now to prepare you for later. You do not have to have all the answers – God is preparing you now in the journey as He leads you towards the destination. (For more on the future, see a ‘Faith-Filled Future’).
In moments like today, trust that God has what’s best in store for you. The fog may limit what you can see, but that doesn’t mean you don’t know where you are going. With God, He will guide you each step through the unknown and unclear plans. Merely fix your eyes on what is unseen and eternal – the Lord Jesus1. He has a hope and a future for you – a future that is bright and a hope that is filled with the goodness of God.
Have a blessed week!
- 2 Corinthians 4:17-18