Focusing on God’s Will
Robert Wurtz II
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV).
The people of God had rebelled to the point that He destroyed Jerusalem and sent them away captive to Babylon. The duration of their captivity would be seventy years. God went as far as to tell them to pray for the cities where they were captive and in those answered prayers they would find their blessing. This fact did not stop people from looking to the prophets, diviners, and dreamers for a different word. There was no short supply of such lies.
It’s not unusual for man’s will to clash with God’s will. People get their minds set on their plans and then do everything in their power to bring it to pass. In the example of Israel they were told with certainty that they would be captive for seventy years — so they might as well get comfortable (so to speak). God said, “I know the plans I have for you…” (Emphasis on “I”).
Ambition and revelation are not the same things. People often mistake their ambitions for a promise from God. The old timers used to say that when you pray for direction from God, you must first set before the Lord what your will is and then seek God for His will. This requires honesty with oneself. We cannot improve on God’s perfect will. Anything different can only be lesser.
Making things more challenging is when other people have plans for your life. Parents, mentors, teachers, and other influences are often guilty of this. Naturally, parents must raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, but that’s not what I mean. They train up their child with something particular in mind that may or may not be God’s perfect will.
You will recall that Paul the Apostle was trained at the feet of Gamaliel, a renowned Rabbi (Pharisee) of the day. The Pharisees had high hopes for Paul, and when he failed to follow through with their plans, they made him their enemy. They tried everything to destroy their own pupil. This fact is very insightful because it lays bare the thoughts and intentions of men’s hearts. This outlook says, “I’ll be friendly to you so long as you follow my will for your life.” It is the epitome of arrogance. Lost in all of these manmade plans is God’s plan—the ultimate objective.
When my mother lay dying she confessed to me something that I think about and marvel. It happens that when I was a baby, she prayed that I would be a preacher… a man of God. I am often shocked by deathbed confessions such as these. Long before anyone else had a chance to make plans for me, God gave her this general prayer and left it at that. It took over twenty years for that prayer to come to pass. No manipulation. No coercion. Nothing. It was God’s plan all along, and He brought it to pass.
Perhaps you are struggling under a load of someone’s plans or expectations for you. The person or group never misses an opportunity to shame you or in some passive aggressive way let you know that they are disappointed in you. You have failed to meet their expectations. Solution? For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV).