Sunday, March 4, 2012

Plans for Me

“I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out — plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”  (Jeremiah 29:11, The Message)

It’s another of those verses that is quoted so often with people laying so much at its feet.  Actual churches and ministries and belief sets have been founded on this very verse.  People have used it pretty much forever to describe their view of God’s Will and Plan … and I believe they have done so in error.  Many of them have taken this verse (considerably out of context, no less) and claimed that God has a specific “blueprint” for the life and work of each person.  And, whether that use of this “promise” has lead to those leaning toward a God who promises prosperity or one where it is incumbent on us to figure out the exact plan, it all makes for a very frustrated Christian living in a broken world.

Sure there are times when God specifically says, “Do this, then this, then this.”  He did that in many of the stories we’ve loved since childhood.  But, and here is the big difference, that isn’t the normative way we see Him working in people’s lives.  Instead, we see a Master Designer who joins with us, stands at the canvas that is our life, and encourages us to pick up a brush and create along side Him.  We become an extension and expression of His own creativity and, in doing so, play out our part in His Story as we live our own stories.

These ideas don’t set well with the “blueprint” crowd.  They begin to ask about God “causing” things that happen to and around us.  Or they attribute not being “blessed” as a result of something a person did or didn’t do.  They want so badly to have a God who is obligated to act in a specific way, that they have convinced themselves it happens this way.  They either use it to abstain from a God who “does bad things” or to “work harder to please God” or any number of actions and thoughts designed to push the “right button”.  In doing this, they miss the generosity of God’s heart and His invitation for us to be the unique person they were created to be.

I know enough to know that I don’t have all the answers.  I’ve been on this Crooked Path long enough to understand that things don’t happen in a “predictable” way as often as I might like them to.  But I have a firm hope that the God who loves me as an individual is inviting me to embrace Him and live out my best story as part of His.  And that idea is enough of a “plan” for me.

P.S. If you'd like to go a little deeper, download this message audio (MP3) from Matt Hammett at Flood Church in San Diego on this topic. It's well worth the listen.

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