His Ways Are Not Our Ways
by Esther Fleece
Many times in my life, I’ve come back to the promise in Jeremiah 29:11: “‘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.’”
This had been my favorite verse for some time. It helped me when deciding which college to attend, what path to take, which way to turn in so many of life’s decisions. I still have a picture frame with this verse engraved on it from my high school graduation. It’s a verse many of us love, because it is a promise that God is good and wants to be good toward us.
But as my life plans were not working out as I had envisioned, I found less and less comfort in these words. Some days, this verse even seemed like a joke. It’s easy to believe that God has a good plan for your life when things are working out well, but it’s a little tougher when the path is difficult.
And my path has been difficult. Uprooting my life and moving so many times to start over, to get away from my broken past. Company layoffs and job loss. The sudden death of friends. Years of being stalked and anxiety over my safety.
I’ve gone through times when it seemed as if God’s plans were not prospering me at all; in fact, it felt like they were hurting me.
But the very same God of the harvest is also the God of the desert.
Again and again, I kept hearing Jeremiah 29:11 echo in my heart and head.
Finally, one day, during my time away seeking healing, I begrudgingly opened my Bible to this familiar verse and asked God to give me new eyes to see what I was about to read. I couldn’t see Him clearly in the season I was in. I loved God, but it had been so long since I had sensed His presence. I had almost forgotten what He looked and sounded like. Life can be so unrecognizable in the midst of pain, and yet I decided to look up the word plans. I was surprised to learn that the original word in Hebrew is machashabah; a more literal translation is “thoughts.” God knows the thoughts He has toward me. And His thoughts toward me are good.
I had to read it several times to make sure I was getting this straight.
If it was true, this changed everything! I had always defined plans as “an easy life” and “prosperity,” here and now. I put time, effort, and finances into knowing those plans. And I pursued those plans. I wanted plans without pain, plans without suffering, plans without hardship.
The emphasis was on me. Me knowing the plans; me understanding the plans; me implementing the plans. But God’s machashabah—His thoughts—toward me are so much more than anything I could have ever imagined on my own. His thoughts toward me are the real constant, despite whatever circumstances I am walking through. Instead of being so fixated on the plans for my life, I realized I needed to be more interested in knowing God’s thoughts toward me.
My behavior does not determine my identity. Rather, anyone who calls on God is welcomed into the family and named a beloved son or daughter (John 1:12). I am not an employee of God; I am a daughter of God.
Taken from No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece Copyright © 2016 by Esther Fleece. Used by permission of Zondervan.
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