Listen up... this is a public service announcement for those of you who are "planning" your life.
I have some good news, bad news and GREAT news to share!
The good news is that God's love endures!
Psalm 103:10 says:"He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities."
Let me try to explain. Last week in bible study we were in 2 Kings 13. This is where the kings of Israel are really messing up. They were making all kinds of WRONG plans, even wicked plans. If you want a GREAT little history lesson, you can go to the Bible Project and watch an animated video on the timeline of this part of the bible. By the way, I was completely amazed at what this organization (The Bible Project) is doing and I'm so excited to share it with everyone and anyone who wants to learn about the bible in a very easy way.
Anyways... Back to 2 Kings. This is where the Lord loses His patience and is angry with the wicked kings of Israel because they kept veering from His plan over and over again. Of course when they get into a bind each time, what do they do? Of course... Ask God to help them! God was so displeased with the path they chose... But it says "God listened to their prayers."
This should give us all hope.
The Lord was displeased but He still listened and answered their prayers... in SPITE of what they had done! God loves us so much. He knows we are going to make mistakes, He knows we are going to mess up... but when we come back to Him in prayer... He listens. His love endures.
See, it's always about God's GRACE.
He doesn't answer our prayers because we are so AWESOME. It's because HE is, and He loves us and gives us GRACE undeserved. Oh thank you Lord for that!
The other example in this part of 2 Kings is a TEST. (Yes, we go through tests as well...)
Elisha asks Joash to strike the ground with some arrows. Oh Joash did... but half heartedly. He struck it a few times, but it angered Elisha that he didn't do it more or with more effort. There's so much symbolism here with the war that was coming, but the point is that there was this lukewarmness in King Joash. And that's where we are so many times. Maybe we know what we should be doing but we do it only part of the way, with the least amount of work. Maybe we THINK we know what plan God has for us, but we go down it only part of the way and when things get hard we jump to a different plan. Maybe we don't trust that what God is telling us is really God. Or we lack spiritual maturity because we are not dealing with our sin or we're not being filled every day with the Holy Spirit and asking Him to show us His plan for our lives.
So that's where Joash was, and:
He got exactly what he believed God for... but NOT what God would have done for him!
READ THAT AGAIN...
WE GET EXACTLY WHAT WE BELIEVE GOD FOR... BUT NOT WHAT GOD WOULD HAVE FOR US.
We put limits on God because of our lack of faith or restrained prayers. I don't know about you... but this is so true for me. Man was I smacked in the head with this at church. God is a limitless, endless possibilities God! Why don't we see that and believe that... daily?!
Oh, what opportunities are we missing out on by not having BIG BOLD FAITH?? By not trusting that His plans are so much greater than anything we can imagine!?
So that's the good news...
God is SO willing and ready to SHOW UP and show us what He can do in and through us. To get the glory for great things He has and will do in YOUR LIFE!
The bad news is... a lot of times we don't trust Him to do that. I get it.. it's not easy to put our plans, our futures, our lives all before Jesus and say... "Ok Lord, USE MY LIFE. Use the gifts, talents, abilities that You have given me. Walk me through some amazing, hard, awesome, scary GOD PLANS because I am trusting You."
The bad news is... we don't want to wait on Him. There are so many examples in scripture of waiting on the Lord and His timing. But if you're like me... we get an idea in our head and we're OFF! We hear the Lord in our prayer time or think He's giving us something to do and we're ready to plan our life away! (Yes, this hits close to home for me.) I am MOVING to another STATE because of what the Lord was stirring in our hearts... hello! (lol) But we are trying to trust Him daily and wait on Him to tell us the WHEN.
I saw this on IG a few weeks ago and it really got to me. Waiting isn't easy to do! Sometimes we think maybe waiting is actually a NO. Or we don't hear that "still, small voice" and we're not sure if we will. Waiting is so hard when you DO have to plan for a move. Or you DO have to decide on what college to go to, or what job to take...
So how do we make these BIG decisions in life? How do we know what's the right plan, at the right time?
Let me start by saying one of the greatest blessings in life is that we do get to have the freedom to choose. It shows God's love for us in that He has given us free will. So know that He does give us all free will to make plans, live life and choose. I also know there are so many different kinds of paths to follow, plans we could choose, that this freedom may feel overwhelming at times. And in that freedom we can (and should) still desire to know what the Lord's BEST is for us.
Here are some tips from friends, some tips I found online and from my own life experiences that I wanted to add to this blog post. I think these are great guidelines to help you in planning for your future. So consider the following tips:
1. Read God's Word
God's Word is like a map. He has given us the Bible to instruct and guide us. We've all heard the saying "When all else fails, read the instructions." It's smart to read the instructions first. The Scriptures are filled with ways to stay on the path God designed for you... ways to see what God has for your life. Those are His instructions. "People who read the scriptures daily find hidden treasures that will guide them to their greatest purpose in life." Family Source.
You will be amazed at how the Lord will speak to you through His Word when you seek Him there.
Psalm 32:8 "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you."
One friend said... Pray, duh. hahaha What's true though is that we all know we've been headstrong on an idea and gone forward with it without praying first. So we need to be reminded to PRAY. Pray for God's help in making your plan be in accord with His plan. The Rev. Dr. Brooks Ramsey said "Through prayer and meditation, we have access into the divine presence that provides guidance and inspiration. God is never so pleased as when we stand up and make a moral decision that reflects our desire to live at the highest and most useful level attainable."
Proverbs 19:21 "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."
3. Think about what your ultimate goals in life are
How do you plan for your future if you don't know where you're going or what you want to ultimately achieve. Ask yourself, "What is my end goal?" If you were playing football and you had no idea where the end zone was, you would have no direction as to which way to run. So it is with life. Picture your "end zone," and run in that direction. Here are a few suggestions to help you discover your end zone:
Ask yourself what you really want out of life? One friend said that she likes to write out lists to help clarify her thoughts. Sometimes we may intuitively know more about how we are deciding than we think, and the lists may show that. So try making a list of those wants for your life, such as feeling God's spirit with you, having a happy family, enjoying your career, helping others or improving your talents.
Call out to God in prayer and ask Him which of these are most important.
Make a plan to achieve them. Begin today to live that plan out.
Psalm 145:18 "The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."
4. Seek out wise counsel
One of my friends said that she likes to confirm big decisions by seeking wise counsel from people in her life that she knows will be straight with her and not just agree with everything she says. How important it is to have trusted friends and wise people in our lives. When faced with big decisions it is very helpful to share our thoughts with someone who we can trust will give us sound advice. Ask the Lord to lead you to the right person, or persons. Think of the people in your life that have endured the trials of life and yet have remained true to the Lord. Ask them to be your mentor.
Proverbs 12:15 "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice."
5. Develop your natural talents
They were given to you for a divine purpose. Did you hear that... a DIVINE purpose. You may not think you have any, but YOU DO. They can range from musical to artistic, writing to athletics, teaching to nursing others, and the list goes on. I know it's hard to step out in this area and trust that what talents you have can be something you can make a living at. My homework assignment for you... Go read "CHASE THE LION" by Mark Batterson... like right now.
See, what you're really thinking/praying is that what you LOVE to do WILL be God's plan for your life. Am I right?
Well, we are ALL created for a purpose, remember? A divine purpose. We all were created with special talents and abilities. So is it so far fetched to see that our dreams come from God? And if so... we should have the boldness to act on them, right?
Get on your knees and ask your Heavenly Father, who loves you more than you can even imagine, to help you to know what your talents are and how to use them for His good. Ask Him what He wants you to do with the desires of your heart. You will be surprised what happens as you start opening the door to being used in the ways He has designed for you before you were even born. "In God's book of success it's about stewardship. He won't ask us if we have been successful... He will ask us if we have been FAITHFUL with the time, talents and treasures He has given us." Mark Batterson
Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you."
6. Trust Him
Here is one of the most beautiful scriptures to help you see the plans God has prepared for you. It is from Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths."
We are free to plan and choose what we do in life, but to have the greatest happiness and fulfillment in this life we will include God in the choosing. That is when we can be certain we know our plans are His plans.
And...here's the GREAT news:
Job 42:2 "I know that You can do ALL things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted."
That should make you REJOICE!
We can plan, we can choose a path and we WILL make some mistakes along the way. But the GREAT news is that He is in control and His plans WILL prevail. I love what Mark Batterson says in "Chase the Lion"
"In every dream journey (a.k.a. plan for your life) there comes a moment when you have to quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. You have to go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. A God-sized dream/plan will be beyond your ability, beyond your resources. Unless God does it, it can't be done! And that is precisely how God gets the glory!"
Here's another nugget of inspiration from Mark:
"God's dream for your life is so much bigger, so much better than breaking even. If you focus on not making mistakes, you won't make a difference."
So dream GOD-SIZED dreams!
Dream, plan, choose a path... do ALL of these things with the help of your Heavenly Father. You will never regret living your life for Christ. Your only regret at the end of your life will be the time, talent and treasure you didn't give back to God. He gave you those gifts for a reason and He will be there with you every step of the way, if you ask Him.
Proverbs 16:9 "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps."
Hebrews 4:16 "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
Go confidently my friends!
P.S. Thank you to my dear "Bellagio girls" who gave me some great tips for this post. xoxo