Recently I was talking to a friend who attended a funeral of a Christian young person. They wondered if this person had achieved all that God intended for their life. And then wondered the same thing about their own life. It assumes that God’s plan for our lives is to complete a series of God-ordained tasks.
But God has a much bigger plan and purpose for our lives.
His plan is to make us more like Jesus, and God has a million ways he can do this. When we live this way, it’s freeing. We no longer have to worry if we have ‘missed’ God’s plan, married the wrong person, took the wrong course, or moved to the wrong address. God will use all our circumstances, both the good and the bad, to make us more like Jesus. His plan for our lives is never off track.
Not a to-do list
God’s plan isn’t a to-do list, neither is it an architect’s blueprint, or a teacher’s curriculum, or a computer program. It isn’t something that’s setin concrete. God doesn’t need it to be, because he“causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God,”Romans chapter 8 verse 28. God can work in any and every situation to mould us and make us more like his son.
Neither does God leave us adrift without direction. He has gifted us with aptitudes and abilities which he expects us to use. He has also planted desires and dreams in our hearts. And any time we are short on wisdom, all we have to do is ask. There are many good things we could be doing, and it blesses God’s heart to see us actively pursuing our dreams.
Yet we also remember that our dreams are God-given,so we don’t become focussed on them to the detriment of our own spiritual and emotional well-being.
David’s unfulfilled dream
David had a dream of building a temple for God. It was a great dream, but it wasn’t for him to fulfil. God gave this job to his son, Solomon. David let it go without a word of complaint, because it wasn’t about him and his desires, it was about how he could best honour God.
God doesn’t always have a specific task that we should be doing right now, so in the meantime, we live like Jesus who “went around doing good …” Acts chapter 10 verse 38. We don’t need a ‘calling’ or ‘gifting’ to do good. We can bless the people in our lives by being a compassionate colleague, an eager encourager, a lingering listener.
When God does have specific tasks for us to do, it’s a privilege to fulfil the responsibility. Mordecai believed God had a specific task for Esther—ask the king to save the Jews. We may remember his famous words: “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Esther chapter 4 verse 14. However, his previous words are also significant: “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place …”.
Mordecai was confident that God would save his people, but God was giving Esther the opportunity to be instrumental in their deliverance.
This is both a comfort and a challenge. God’s plans aren’t thwarted if we fail to do what he asks us, because he will find another way to achieve his purpose. But we will miss out on being the channel of God’s blessing that he intended.
We are free to ignore or run from God’s tasks, like Jonah, but we may find ourselves in a major storm, or swallowed up in a bigger problem. Not because God can’t find someone else to complete the assignment, but because his heart’s desire is to see us grow into the fullness of Christ, and his assignments help us to do this.
Godwon’t force us to follow his paths: “The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control’”Psalm chapter 32 verses 8-9.
Yes, God does lead and guide, but he doesn’t micromanage.
Susan Barnes has been involved in pastoral ministry for over twenty years with her husband, Ross. They are now semi-retired and enjoy supporting a number of churches in north-east Victoria.