I recently had an interesting conversation with a group of friends about whether or not God has a specific plan for our lives.
It seems many were brought up in a generation that was very focused on uncovering your specific “plan & purpose” that God created you for. Having prayed for years, hoping to discern this purpose, some have given up on finding it.
As you all know, I’m reading Joshua. Slowly.
I have to admit that getting in the later chapters, it can be a little tedious to read all the town names and valley names and which tribe got what land, etc.
But as I read, I can’t help but think about how specific God’s plan is. He spelled it out for them. It was His job to make His plan clear, not their job to somehow locate it.
I used to kill myself trying to find God’s plan. I understand the brand of frustration my friends shared about. I’d get on my knees and tell God I wasn’t moving until He spoke to me & told me everything I wanted to know about my future.
Then, one day, in May of 2004 while teaching at a student ministry conference, He spoke. Here is part of what He said.
“I do have a plan for you – a wonderful plan that will shock, delight and surprise you, a plan that will blow your small ambitions out of the water.” He then went on to tell me I wasn’t ready to hear about that plan.
This wasn’t what I wanted to hear.
God spoke to my heart that day that I needed to be still and experience Him as God, that He is so different than any other relationship I’ve ever experienced. He called me to climb up into His lap and allow Him to change me, to lean back & rest my head against His heart so I might know & experience all the wonderful things He feels for me.
God didn’t primarily want to “use” me, as in have me do great things; He primarily wanted to change me. His goal for me in that time was to deposit in my heart His love, the new identity He died to give me, and His vision for my wholeness.
It’s amazing to look back on that time in my life, and see what God has done in those 7 years. When I look at His children now, I wish I could literally take what God has deposited into my heart (His deep & passionate love for each of us, His tender care & compassion, His desire to see us walk in freedom & live abundant lives) and transplant it into someone else’s heart. I now do this little by little, bit by bit, through teaching, writing, and blogging. I would not be able to do that now if I hadn’t allowed God to work in me for the past 7 years.
Let me be clear. I absolutely believe God has a specific plan for each of His children who call Him by name.
But we can kill ourselves (and kill our faith) trying to “find” it.
Jesus said my sheep hear my voice. Period. The God who spoke the whole world into existence can make His voice heard by you when you need to hear it.
God does not give us a road map. It would be easier in some ways if He did, but then we wouldn’t have to trust in Him and cling to Him so tightly; we’d simply have to trust in the map.
I don’t want to get to know a map. I want to purpose to know my Creator, the One who shaped me & formed me & laid out my life.
I’m not going to argue over whether or not God literally maps out every minute of every day. What I do know is that God created each of us with gifts & talents, passions & desires, that He wants to use in specific ways.
Rather than strive to find the map, it’s been much healthier (as my friends mentioned above have also realized) for me to try and follow His commands and teachings, to love Him and continually surrender to Him, to dream, to live out Proverbs 3:5-6, trusting He will make my paths straight as I go, rather than always seeking after the next big thing or sign. In the midst of that, as I cling to God, as I read His Word & spend time with His people, God will show me what He has for me.
“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
If you’re looking for help discerning whether or not you are hearing God’s voice, this blog post might help.