All my life there has been such an emphasis on finding God’s plan for my life. Stay on the right path. Make sure you’re inside His plan. Pray so you can discern His plan. Don’t take one wrong step or it could all get ruined.
Graduating high school and entering into college was a stressful time trying to make choices that would affect the rest of my life. I remember praying earnestly for God to reveal His plan and show me which direction to take. Ultimately surrending to His plan and trusting He would get me where I needed to be but always doubting and wondering if I was truly doing what I should be doing.
Recently the Lord taught me something that I wish someone had told me during that time. It would have made life so much easier! I’ve come to believe that God is more concerned with a purpose He has for us than a plan He has for us. The things that happen to us through out life are the process God uses to get us to that purpose. So it can be said that He is more concerned about process and how we respond to that process than He is how we obey any steps to get to a specific plan.
Recently, I stumbled upon a service clip from Kris Vallotton at Bethel Church. It always makes me smile when God brings timely seed for my walk with Him. In Kris’s sermon he talks about Jeremiah 29:11. One of the most popular scriptures for making decisions and seeking God’s will. Let me re-cap the clip for you.
Have you ever really stopped and thought about Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus? Revelation 13:8 tells us that Jesus was crucified before the foundation of the world. This means that before Adam had a problem, God had an answer. Before our problem exists, God has an answer. Yet Jesus didn’t have a place to be born. As a woman who has been in labor, I can tell you that not having a safe and clean place to deliver my child is a problem! Yet God didn’t make a reservation! He had a purpose for redeeming Adam and Eve’s fall. Yet he didn’t have a specific plan to provide for every single step along the way. If his plan started before the foundation of the world, you’d think he would have at least made a reservation! Makes me think He didn’t really “have a plan.” But instead a purpose!
Many times I think we feel that if God is calling us to do something every single thing along the way is going to go smoothly. His provision will be around every step and if not, then it must be on the wrong path. I better take a step back and try again. But this just isn’t the way it works. God didn’t plan for a room even though he had planned for this moment. God has a purpose for our life but He doesn’t neccessarly have a plan. In fact, I believe God has many plans He uses to get us to our purpose.
In Jermiah 29:11, the word “plans” is better translated as “thoughts.” In fact the KJV says “thoughts and plans”. Thoughts consist of a much broader term than a plan. Plans can be changed, cancelled or ruined. Plans can lead to disappointment or failure. Purpose is full of hope, future and optimism as there are many way that can lead to one’s purpose. A purpose is much harder to thwart.
A great example of one who lived in God’s purpose rather than God’s plan is Joseph in the Old Testament. You can read the story in Genesis 37. A young man sold by his older brothers into slavery because they were filled with jealousy and hatred. Joseph could have spent the rest of his life embittered towards God. How many times have we interpreted a bad thing as God’s plan for our lives making God look like anything but a loving father? So many times during my journey with cancer people would say, “Well, God’s got a plan.” It made it sound like God struck me with cancer so ultimatly His plan for my life could come into fruitition and I should rejoice because God’s will was being done. A big bunch of hogwash.
Just another poor deduction made of God’s character when we think of things through His plan instead of His Purpose.
God did not place Joseph in that pit so some Divine plan could be attained. God did not place the cancer on my vocal cord in some sadistic attampt to guide me towards a pigeon-holed plan He concocted for me. Evil things are not a part of His plan. Ever. Evil things are simply a result of a fallen world and God, as a Redeemer, takes things meant for evil and uses them in a “process” to get us to our “purpose.” It has nothing to do with “plan.” Instead. It’s all about process and purpose.
Joseph understood this concept and it’s one that all Beleivers should understand as well. In Genesis 50, Joseph comes face to face with his brothers. Many, many years later his heart is revealed. He could have grown very embittered and angry. Instead, Joseph submitted to the process as he waited for God to bring him into his purpose.
His brothers realized who he is and instantly bow down in shame before him. Pleading for their lives they offer themselves as slaves. Joseph, who undestands process, simply says, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.”
What an answer.
We see this again in Romans 8:28. One of my favorite when we think of process rather than plan.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (emphasis added) Romans 8:28
Did you notice his says “called according to his purpose” and not “called according to his plan”?
I love this quote by Graham Cooke. “If you’re going to do anything significant for God you will need to submit your life to His process.”
I truly belive God is more concerned about process than He is a plan. Many times things happen and we are tempted to think “His plan is ruined.” If anyone has the right to say that I do. One called to preach and teach boldly loses her voice and is rendered unable to speak? Really?
But God is a God of purpose and process. He’s not so concerned about specific plans. One plan fails. That’s okay. Onto plan B, C, D, E or Z. It’s more about process growing us towards our purpose than a specific plan. Process first. Then purpose. Plan doesn’t matter.
If there is something tragic that has happened to you, don’t fear my friend. If you’re in a pit listening to your trusted older siblings negotiate your rate. Or if you’re battling a sickness or cancer that seemingly removes your purose. If you’re sitting at the precipace of a huge decision that will influence the rest of your life. Where ever you are, remember purpose. God has thoughts towards you. Not plans. Thoughts and purpose. A future and a hope.
What really hit me when the Holy Spirit was walking me through this lesson was the idea that plans can be thwarted. Your plan for a vacation can be ruined by a tropical storm. Canceled. Ruined by rain. Leaving one truly disappointed. But when we walk in purpose rather than plan, that vacation can never be ruined. The purpose of a vacation is to rest and relax. And when we step back to take a fresh look at the purpose of the time spent, no tropical storm can take away the purpose of that vacation. You regroup. You find a new thing to get you towards that purpose. It’s a process.
Same with life. When we think of things in terms of process and purpose, it’s much easier to handle life’s disappointments. It’s also much easier to see God as a loving Father rather than a sadistic puppeter.
So stand in truth today Believer. Wharever hardship you are walking through, He will use it as part of His process to get you to your purpose. And this is a beautiful thing.
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