For I know the plans I have for you, declared the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29: 11

 

There is something that I want to simply admit, accept, and state for the record. To quote The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, that is, “Times are tough now, just getting tougher.” Days go by wherein the news from the world seems grim and that which comes from close to home is even harder to bear. Yet, there is a reason to continue on. We people, in general, are given some sort of innate and internal desire to see this day through and to face into the next with anticipation that its sunset will be a time of celebration to be held in response to the way that things have improved in the space that we inhabit. I think that perhaps God wired most of us with a form of optimism that has faith in the future. In some ways this enters into God’s view of things as it defies the logic of today with a dream for tomorrow.

 

That is why it is important to look toward the Lord and to seek to grasp onto His view of the future as we travel through our days. God is a realistic optimist, Himself. He knows the condition of this world, and He thoroughly understands the nature and the state of our wandering hearts. Despite the painful reality of the way that people treat God’s call to righteousness, justice, and love, He remains the Father who seeks after us, who is quick to forgive, and who pours out healing and redemption upon us as an unending gift that is given out of the depths of His nature and character. The Lord appreciates and feels the pain that is caused by the way that we treat each other and by the manner in which we selfishly do harm to His Creation in general. He participates with us in suffering through the ravages that sin is causing on and in our landscape.

 

In fact, it is God’s total and absolute understanding of the state of things here that gives me even more hope and confidence in the future. This is true because I also know who God is and how He relates to me and to others. The Lord has loved and cared for me throughout my brief history just as He has done this for people from the beginning of time. The narrative of His love, grace, and redemption stretches from the first days of the existence of the universe, and God’s promise of its continuation has no end. As we know Christ and follow God’s plan for our lives, we enter into this same narrative of redemption and the hope that comes out of it. There will be pain, and there are struggles to be endured along the way, but the Lord prevails in it all. He comforts us when we are troubled, sooths our souls when they are burdened, and binds up the wounds that are inflicted upon us with His perfect care. So, back to The Boss, as he shares his answer to the state of things in the world by saying, “Cover me, come on and cover me.” Yes, Lord, I too seek the covering shelter of your caring arms of love; come Jesus and cover me!

 

Cover Me; written by Bruce Springsteen; from album Born in the USA

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

 

God has plans for me. That can be a very troubling thought, or it can be a truly comforting one. My response to this idea is primarily based upon my view of God and upon how well developed my own plans are at this time. If I know with absolute certainty where my life is headed and I am working hard to assure that future, it can be very difficult to set all of that effort and my thoroughly designed game plan aside for a time in order to do what is necessary for me to truly hear the will of God expressed. It is hard for me to enter into this period of prayer and meditation, this cessation of my own efforts toward my goals, in order for my voice to recede into the background.

 

In order to do this I need to trust God more than I trust myself. This depth of trust comes from knowing God well. As I look upon Him in His Word and in the world, the nature and the character of the Lord are fully on display. Often it is God’s people who present the most telling demonstration of His unceasing trustworthiness as they tell the stories of their lives and the ways that God has been with them and taken them through all that they have encountered during the journey. This undeniable and continual presence of God is a very clear indicator of His faithfulness to myself and to all of His people.

 

So, when God tells me that He has plans for me, I can trust that, in fact, those plans are the ones that I should seek out and follow. However, seeking and following doesn’t necessarily mean that I stop all that I am doing and wait until the message from God is clear to me. The Lord often works through our efforts as we yield them to His will. He illuminates certain paths and darkens others. His will is frequently expressed through the prayerful advice of Godly people. Some of His ways are hard and the environment there can be harsh and unfriendly, but He goes with us to those places and shows us His strength when ours fails. The one thing that I can count on is that God knows where He wants me to go, and He is the sovereign Lord of that place.