PLANS & PURPOSES WORTH TRUSTING

Have you ever put a plan in place to accomplish something? For some people, planning is not in their vocabulary. They prefer to, “just let things figure themselves out”. Other people are born planners; everything they work on is planned out to the minute detail. Asking a planner to just sit back and let things roll is like asking her to hold her breath for twenty minutes; it is impossible to do. I am a huge planner. I plan out days, weeks, even months ahead of an event or meeting; it is just who I am. Putting a plan in place gives me the assurance that the goals or results I am looking for have a high chance of being met; so I plan.  The scripture that I look to as my green light when it comes to planning is found in the book of Proverbs,

Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity [abundance], but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.     Proverbs 21:5

There is prosperity and abundance in planning; according to the bible. Abundance is something we all can use in our lives. Good planning assures that goals are met, tasks get done, and the proper priority is given to the most pressing and necessary items on one’s list. Jesus even addressed the importance of planning in one’s life. In Luke chapter 14, as He was teaching about the cost of discipleship, Jesus used an analogy of a person setting out to build a structure,

28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? 29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. 30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’

 Without planning out the costs to build a structure it is possible for the builder to never complete the structure due to lack of funds. The same is true in any person’s life for any project one embarks on; one needs to have a plan. So, it is an agreed upon understanding – at least according to the bible – that planning is a necessary part of life. What happens when you set out to accomplish something by putting a plan in place beforehand, only for that plan to get interrupted? Hold on, there is more to the question. What if the interruption to your plan is caused, or allowed, by God? How do you respond? What do you do next? I think of the times, there are several, in my life when God has interrupted my plans and my purposes from what I set out to do and in place of my plans He introduced His plans and purposes. How did I respond? Honestly, I have not always responded how God would have wanted me to. Neither did Jonah.

God saw a city of people who were wicked, evil, and had no reverence for Him. Now, some may have expected God to respond by sending fire and floods to wipe them out, as He had done during Lot’s time (Gen.19) and Noah’s time (Gen.7) respectively, but instead God showed compassion towards the people of Nineveh and He put together a plan to send them a warning and give them a second chance to change. Part of God’s plan in doing this involved sending a man called Jonah to the people. How did Jonah respond to God’s plan? He basically kicked it to the curb and set out to fulfill his own plan.

The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.                 Jon.1:1-3

If you have never read the story of Jonah, I strongly encourage you to grab your bible and read up. “What a brave soul Jonah was”, was the sarcastic thought that went through my mind as I re-read the story a few weeks ago. After I made the statement, the Lord reminded me of times when I had treated His plans in the same way – dismissed, belittled, and ignored them. How do I know that Jonah had dismissed, belittled, and ignored God’s plan versus Jonah may have been too sacred to take on the assignment? Because Jonah himself tells us he heard God’s plan but wanted nothing to do with it.

10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.        

 1This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.            Jon.3:10-4:2

 Jonah told God that the reason he went to Tarshish was because he knew God’s plan was different than his. Jonah’s plan was that God would destroy the city of Nineveh but God’s plan was to offer them a chance to repent. How do you respond when God’s plan is the total opposite of your plan? Can I show you someone who responded different from Jonah despite God interrupting her plans? There is another short story in the bible about a woman called Naomi. Her story is in a book called, Ruth. Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, set out from Bethlehem with their 2 sons with a plan to find a better life for themselves. Instead what they experienced was death. Three of the four who left Bethlehem and settled in Moab never left Moab alive. Elimelech died, as well as his and Naomi’s sons; Malon and Kilion. The death of her husband and both of her children was not in the plan of Naomi. This may sound cruel to say but it is true; Naomi being the only survivor in the family was in the plan of God. That may sound unfair and uncaring of God but it is important to remember what God had the prophet Jeremiah and the Psalmist record,

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.   Jer.29:11

11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.   Ps.33:11

 God’s plans are always, ALWAYS good, period. Even when they appear unfair and uncaring, they are actually good. God’s plans do not involve disaster, they involve hope. The second thing to remember is that our God’s plans are solid and last forever. They never crumble and fall apart. They never ever fail; it is impossible for them to fail. The third thing about God’s plans and purposes, they extend out to all generations. When God puts a plan together it really is not just about you, or I, it is about the generation after you, and the generation after them. When it feels, it is just a feeling, like God’s plan is creating disaster in your life, remember these three things; God’s plans are good and hope-filled, they are eternal and never fail, God’s plans are generational; they extend beyond you. Now back to Naomi. Naomi set out to return to Bethlehem, a sad and bitter widow who obviously believed God had abandoned her interrupting her plans with His. Naomi told her friends who came to welcome her home,

 19 So the two of them continued on their journey. When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival. “Is it really Naomi?” the women asked. 20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?”         Ruth1:19-21

Have you ever felt like Naomi? That God’s plan had caused you to suffer and sent tragedy your way? Have you ever heard the phrase, “suffering is part of God’s plan for our lives”? That phrase is true. Sometimes, not always but sometimes, God allows us to suffer; it is part of His plan. All suffering permitted by God does not imply sin was the cause. Suffering is sometimes simply part of God’s plan, period. Suffering in God’s plan is a weighty topic that deserves its own blog, look out for a future blog on this topic. For now, remember that God’s plan for you could involve suffering, just as Naomi’s did. Also remember that even in the suffering God’s plan is about giving you a future of hope. Naomi experienced this futuristic hope when God, through her daughter-in-law Ruth and her distant relative, Boaz, gave her a grandson to hold in her arms not too long after she returned to Bethlehem.

13 So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife. When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. 14 Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. 15 May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!” 16 Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own. 17 The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David.                 Ruth 4:13-17

What was the difference between Jonah and Naomi when it came to God’s plans? Naomi did not fight the plan of God for her life. Was she sad and discouraged by it in the beginning? Yes. Did she feel like God had caused her to suffer? Yes. But unlike Jonah, Naomi did not fight God’s plan. Naomi could have stayed in Moab and not return to Bethlehem, she could have started serving the Moabites’ gods and have nothing to do with Yahweh. Naomi chose to follow God’s plan even though it did not make sense to her and it was not in line with her plan. For Naomi, it was the right choice. Naomi witnessed her Kingman and Keeper interrupt her plans with His plans that started out looking disastrous but in the end was the best generational plan God could have ever given her. The best thing about this story is that God has not stopped. He is still interrupting mankind’s plans and replacing them with His dynamic plans because He cares, He never fails, and He is a generational-thinking God. Trust God’s plans to cover you and to keep you in a way that your own plans will never be able to do.

1 thought on “PLANS & PURPOSES WORTH TRUSTING”

  1. Wow, that was great!
    I got a better understanding of why some of my plans were interrupted by God. At first, I felt like a complete failure. The word of God is always revealed when I have a question about something I’m dealing with.
    Thank you Ruthie for explaining these two stories.

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