God has a plan for you.

Synchronous Life Ministries Logo 3You may have heard this phrase before. “God has a plan for your life.” One of the most often used scriptures in this conversation is from Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD, “Plans to bless you, not to harm you.” What a great promise God made through Jeremiah to the people of Jerusalem and Judah, his chosen people. As a community, as a family of faith under God, God desired and intended to bless them in a time to come. We need to be clear that this promise is not spoken to an individual, or a collection of individuals, but to the nation as a whole. Individualization of the text is a departure from Jeremiah’s message.
We also need to look at the preceding versed from the beginning of the chapter.(In fact, I might argue that if we want to claim any promise that we believe God offers in scripture, we ought to at least do the work of reading and understanding the message of the entire book in which that promise is found.) Earlier in chapter 29, The God of Israel says that the divine plan for the people of Judah is that they will remain exiled in Babylon for 70 years – at least 2.5 generations! So the promise of deliverance that is made to one group of adults will find its fulfillment in their great grandchildren! And what does God direct in the meantime? Settle in, and be a blessing to those around you so that you also may be blessed (Jer 29:4-7).
So we do have an expression of God’s plan and will for individuals in that particular situation – live where you are (“bloom where you’re planted”) and bless the people around you. And if we then revisit vs 11ff, we can see that God’s plan is to bless us, but God’s plan for us is dependent on our faithfulness toward God. When we go all the way back to the Exodus, we see that God’s plan was to lead the people from Egypt into the promised land – but they refused to go. So, god had that generation wander and die in the wilderness and allow their children to enter the land. The God of Israel has a general plan to bless the peopel of Judah out of Babylon in the future. God has a very specific plan for how they are to live out their relationship with God in the present by being just and righteous and gracious and merciful and loving toward the people around them – who by the way might be considered captors and thus enemies!
Take a moment to read Jeremiah chapter 24. It speaks not of God’s plan for the people in captivity – but of God’s opinion about them, attitude toward them. God sees them as good fruit, worthy to be blessed. God loves them and wants them to return to worship Him. It was their leaders who failed to keep them near to God and the covenant who are like rotten fruit before God’s eyes – they will be punished and set aside, says God. How often might we think of our times in captivity as God’s punishment toward us? In this story, the prophet tells us that the time of captivity is God’s way of drawing the people back, not of punishing them.
If we jump way forward to the teaching of Jesus, we find sermon upon sermon and story upon story about how we are to live. Paul, Peter, James and John offer the same kind of teaching in their letters. God’s plan for us is to live righteous and holy lives wherever we are, withwhom ever we find ourselves. And when God does call someone specifically to a particular task or ministry, they were not beforehand wandering around asking, “What is God’s plan for my life?” as though God had a job and a house and a spouse picked out for each person. Rather, they were seeking to live faithful lives in the families and professions they had chosen or made. Peter was content to be a fisherman when Jesus called him. Paul was a tentmaker content to do battle against the church in the name of the Mosaic law and way of serving God. Moses (to go back again) was content to be a shepherd on the mountains working for his father-in-law.
God does have a plan for you, but it most likely is for you to live your life according to the teachings of Jesus, to share his love and gospel of salvation with others, however and wherever you find yourself. If God has something more specific for you, God will let you know. You do not need to expend great energy or anxiety trying to read God’s mind. Simply bless those around you and seek their welfare, for as they are blessed, so you will be blessed.

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