For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.
This will be my first post of the new year here in 2020. The natural rhythm of our culture is a big celebration and day to recuperate. And in the midst of this lull after Christmas and before the new year, we reflect on the past year and consider the next, perhaps making goals and plans. These plans can be resolutions about matters that are physical, emotional, or even spiritual - plans to eat better, exercise more, or avoid temptations that we have given in to before. Perhaps we make plans to be kinder or avoid toxic people or negative social media, or take on the challenge of learning something new like a language. What about spiritual plans?
Another thing our culture provides us is platitudes, often masquerading as God's wisdom or specific scripture. "God helps those who help themselves," or, "cleanliness is next to Godliness," or, "God has a plan." If you're about to check your Bible, don't bother. You won't find any of those in its pages, even that last one. What you will find is the scripture above. God has plans. This is great news of the Good News variety. God makes plans - plural. What does this mean for us? It means that when we make our plans, choices, split second decisions, we cannot mess up what God has in store for us. Whatever the direction or mistake or alternative, God is there to keep calling us forward, to serve others and be in closer relationship with God. Whether it's a new job, a college, a relationship... when we step out in good faith, God goes with us, helping us, guiding us. God makes plans with us. God helps us fix and heal. So what's next?
God has plans for us. We know that sheep become familiar with the shepherd's voice over time and through trusting relationship, as we come to recognize the voices of our loved ones. We do that with God. As we listen to God in prayer, reading scripture, and gathering with other believers to study the word and serve those in need, we hear God's voice and continue to grow closer. So, if you're making plans this year of a spiritual variety, start there. Could you attend worship more often? Join a small group? Go on your first mission trip... or first in a while? Could you be the hands and feet that join the Connecting Team in setting up and cleaning up an event that welcomes your brothers and sisters and visitors into our doors from stressful work weeks? Could you teach a Sunday school class? Could you rise early on a Sunday morning or stay up all Friday night to serve meals to the homeless? Maybe you're being called to support foster families or become a foster parent. The promise is clear... a future with hope... when we seek God. Say yes to one or more of those plans this year. See what plans God is making for you. Say yes, Lord. Here I am.