This verse in Jeremiah 29 is one that a lot of people love. It’s one that I have mixed feelings about. God has a plan for me. Yay! Super! I like it, until His plan doesn’t look like I thought it would and His provision for me is so different than I wanted.
I’m a planner by nature. I have my life planned out weeks in advance. I have my schedule on my phone and on paper in not one but two planners. If I update one calendar I pull them all out and make sure they match. I also keep a running schedule in my head.
Or maybe I should say used to. Here lately the schedule in my head is getting lost in the shuffle. My phone calendar is my go to for direction on where I should be at any given moment. It’s a new territory where people say, “I’ll see you on Wednesday” and my answer is, What am I doing on Wednesday? Oh dear.
But there’s been something freeing in letting all that go. In having vague plans but learning to let life happen and just go with the flow. I know there are people that live their life by that mantra. I just wasn’t ever one of them. It’s nice sometimes.
The pressure to make sure plan A is adequately executed and if not plan B is put into effect and if necessary plan C (and so on), all of that is exhausting. When life derails the plans I have for me I have trouble. But I’m learning.
So what do I do if God’s plans don’t match mine? When you look at Jeremiah 29 as a whole, and not just the verse we like, we see that God’s plans probably didn’t line up with the Israelites’ plans either.
They were in captivity and their plan was probably for God to save them, rescue them and take them home. God says, oh hey you might as well get somewhere to live and start doing well where you’re at because you’re gonna be here a while. Like 70 years a while. Get comfy.
But what He doesn’t say is, “sorry friend. These next 70 years are gonna be awful. Good luck.” He tells them to build houses and have families and make the place they live a better place. “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:7)
What He says is even though you may not love your current situation, here’s how you survive in it. Here’s how you thrive in it. And you can rest in the fact that I have good plans for you. This is where I’ve placed you for now and here’s how you live here in the place you never hoped you’d be. Here’s how you thrive in the place you didn’t dream of.
If that doesn’t mirror our lives sometimes I don’t know what does. This is not the plan I had for me, this is not the story I wanted to tell. This is not the place I wanted to live.
When the current situation looks nothing like I hoped it would, I think God has abandoned me here. I sometimes get mad and think, Look God. I know you have plans for me but I had plans for me too and guess what? This ain’t them.
But God says, “friend I know your future. I know who I created you to be. Your ways are not my ways and you need to trust me in this.” And so we walk on, often wondering where this path may lead. But as we look back at the journey we can see the places that we thought we were broken the most were actually the places we were being remade. These were the places we saw a glimpse of who God created us to be, without the pretense of control or perfection.
And there is hope there for a compulsive planner. There is freedom in laying down my plans and saying, Your way is actually better. I don’t know why this is happening but I can trust that you do. I can survive with that.
His provisions for me, His goodness to me, looks often like nothing I hoped for. Sometimes it looks like the opposite of what I dreamed of, but it’s good just the same. Because He’s the author and He knows how the story ends.
He doesn’t withhold good things from me. He has a plan for me and He knows what things it will take to get me to the place where I can fully realize His plans for me.
There’s something exciting in the anticipation of that. There’s s good place to rest in the knowledge that “He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.” No matter how long it takes.