“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: probably one of the most frequently quoted scriptures from the Bible. Any time I’m worrying about what the future holds then someone (usually my Mum) reminds me of this verse, and while I know in my head that it’s true, I’ve heard it so many times that it doesn’t always filter through to my heart and I’m still left wanting some practical advice instead of this same old thing YET AGAIN. But if I stopped for a few moments and let it sink in I’d realise it’s the best advice ever. Knowing that God’s got an amazing plan for me that will enable me to have the best life I can possibly have – ‘life in all its fullness’, according to John 10:10 – and that He’ll guide me through any difficulties that arise along the way (brilliantly illustrated by Psalm 23) is mind-blowing. The fact that the same God who created the universe cares enough for little old me to shape my future makes it even more amazing – so much so it’s impossible for me to ever fully comprehend.
So God’s planned out my life, right? But what if I want to go off and do my own thing? First of all, seeing as God’s got these great plans for me that’d be a bit daft; there’s no way I could make a better future for myself going it alone. Also, God’s done so much for me and the least I can do is try to glorify Him with my life: after Jesus gave His life for me, how can I not give my life to Him? God sees the bigger picture too: when I’m emotionally involved in a situation I can’t always think objectively, but God does, and it’s usually only in retrospect that I realise how He’s guided me during strategic points in my life. And trying to follow God’s will isn’t a burden; in fact, it’s an honour that He wants me to play a part in bringing about His amazing plans.
So why doesn’t God just tell me who I’m going to marry, for example, or what career I’m going to end up in? Maybe it’s because if He revealed it to me in one go I’d believe I wasn’t capable of doing whatever it is and I’d get all stressed out, but revealing it to me one tiny step at a time stops me feeling overwhelmed. I think it’s also because He wants me to continually seek after Him, not just the stuff He blesses me with. Yes he wants us to find His will for our lives, but he wants us to find Him in the process. ‘If He put it out in plain view, we would seek His will instead of seeking Him’, says Steven Furtick, which, considering how selfish we can be sometimes, is probably pretty accurate. Jesus says in Matthew 6:33 that if we ‘seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness’, the extra stuff we need will be given to us anyway. Not a bad deal eh?
God’s will isn’t just for you either, it extends to everyone around you too. Todd Stocker makes an interesting point about this, arguing that ‘God’s will for your life [is] to love Him and to use your gifts for your fulfillment and others – all the while waking up everyday and asking “How can I best be a light to people around me?”’ While it’s great to want yourself to be where God wants you to be, this shouldn’t develop into selfishness which excludes the very people He wants you to be around.
Rather than being limited to who you’ll marry and what job you’ll have, then, God’s will includes the everyday stuff too. Although thinking about the future is really important, I guess we should think about what God’s will is for us in the present too, keeping Jesus the centre of everything we do and trying our best each day to glorify Him; in the small things as well as the huge ones.