“… and he makes everything work out according to his plan.” Ephesians 1:11b (NLT)
The Apostle Paul wrote this in the context of God’s plan for salvation and redemption for those who put their faith in Christ. Indeed, God has a plan for the world and nothing can stop it. However, I believe the application can be made to our lives personally. God has a plan for our lives and he loves us so much that he will make sure that plan brings glory to him.
I have heard it said, “If you want to make God laugh, then tell him your plans.” I’m not sure if that is true or not, but it does bring up a greater point; we must trust God in spite of how our plans seem to be going.
Seldom does life ever go exactly as we planned. That is a good thing because we can’t see as far as God can or know as much as he knows. Sometimes we get an economy we didn’t plan for, an illness we never expected, a boss we could not see coming, an enemy we don’t deserve, a down-sizing we did not anticipate, or a child we did not plan for. And then there are times that we follow God’s calling and leading to attempt something for him and it seems like he purposely throws up a roadblock. So what do you do when life does not go as planned?
1. Take your next step.
The Christian life is about taking your next step in faith. Follow God even if you don’t know exactly where he is sending you. Abraham did. God called him to follow without ever telling him exactly where he was going. Imagine what kind of faith that took! He left his home and everything he ever knew on God’s word that his final destination would be more than he ever imagined. You and I have been promised a final destination where God lives with us and lavishly pours out his love and grace for all eternity. The journey, however, may take a few plot twists. But that is what makes it fun!
2. Trust God’s timing.
The thing about God’s timing is that it is on his timetable, not ours. But don’t worry because he is never late. I imagine that Moses felt a little anxious about God’s timing. God freed the Israelite slaves and they rejoiced over their new freedom. Suddenly they found themselves in trouble. Pharaoh’s army was behind them with bad intentions; there were mountains on either side of them and the Red Sea in front of them. They thought God had played a cruel trick on them, dangling deliverance in front of them only to snatch it away at the last minute. But God’s timing is perfect. In a move no one could anticipate, he split the Red Sea, delivered them, and destroyed their enemies in one fell swoop. What a picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross!
3. Step into the water.
Sometimes we think that the only way God does a miracle is for us to sit back and do nothing. That is rarely the case in the Bible. Most always faith preceded the miracle. Take Peter for example. All the other disciples saw Jesus walk on the water but Peter is the only one who got out of the boat. Jesus invited him to step out and come to him in the middle of a life-threatening storm. And he did. He didn’t do it perfectly because he took his eyes off of Jesus for just a second, but he became the only human in history that was not also Deity to walk on water. When things are not going as planned God wants you to believe in miracles. But he may also ask you to get out of the boat.
4. Depend on God, not circumstances.
God has a purpose for your life. It will work out according to his plan. Sometimes that is hard to remember if you focus on the circumstances rather than God’s promises. The Bible is filled with stories about people who trusted God rather than their circumstances: Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel, and many others. Here is a deep truth for you to ponder: circumstances sometimes lie. Sometimes your brothers hurt you and your freedom is taken because God plans to use you to save the world. Sometimes God removes you from the palace and makes you herd sheep for 40 years because he is preparing you for something greater than you could ever imagine. Sometimes the giant isn’t an obstacle to your success, but a sling that propels you to the palace. Sometimes lions are nothing more than pillows for a good nights rest before you point a king to the power of God and influence a nation.
There are not many guarantees I can make with total confidence, but I can say with real confidence that your life will not always go as planned. Plans change. Circumstances get in the way. Obstacles appear out of thin air. Satan will lie to you about the circumstances. They are not the truth. God’s Word is the truth. His promises are real. So the next time the devil throws you a curve ball, don’t flinch. Step up to the plate and swing away. God’s got this. And he promises to get you home.