It’s that time of year again…the sound of “Pomp and Circumstance,” mortor boards, and honor ribbons. Graduation! Feeling pretty good about ourselves! And rightly so! Years of what seemed like an endless school career at the high school level, or college or beyond. We’ve set goals, planned strategies, mapped our lives. Things are lookin’ good right now. Onward and upward! The sky’s the limit! It’s time to jump in with both feet and start livin’ the plan!
But, sooner or later, life, as it often does, takes some unexpected turns, and we find ourselves in places that weren’t in the plan. Bumps in the road or major mishaps.
If you’ve been to a baccalaureate service lately you may have heard this verse quoted: “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) It is one of my favorite verses. In fact, I have a beautiful brass refrigerator magnet with this verse on, right there in the kitchen, staring me in the face every day! Here it is in King James Version: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. It is powerful. Ponder the idea of being in the mind of Almighty God! HIS thoughts are aimed at YOU! He has a plan for your life! But, before we run out to the hitching post, grab the reins, mount up, and gallup off into our adventure, maybe we’d better take a closer look at what God is saying to us here.
- HE knows the plans!…Not that He has shown them to us. He doesn’t hand us a map and say, “Go ahead now. Work the plan.” Sometimes you don’t find out what the plan was until years later when you look back and see where He has taken you! ( When I graduated from high school I had big plans for a career in singing. I won a voice scholarship to a big university and I was on my way…uh, without Jesus, I might add. To make a very long story short…that wasn’t God’s plan. Things didn’t work out the way I expected. As I look back over the years, though, I can see what God had intended for me. I did have a career in music! Not on the stage of the opera house, but, directing church choirs and teaching kids in Christian schools to make music and sing praise to the Lord…and loving every minute of it!)
- HE wants us to know that He has a plan!…He is declaring it to us. In the King James version this sounds a little different: “thus saith the Lord.” That always makes me sit up straight and pay attention! 🙂
- What is in HIS plan? King James doesn’t use the word “plans.” It uses the word “thoughts” from the Hebrew word machashebeth, which literally means “contrivance, invention, advice, intention.” I like to think of God having “intentions” for my life. And when He says His intention is to “prosper” me the word there is “Shalom!” So much more than prosper, it means peace of mind and heart; well-being; completeness; absence of discord. And…He says His intention is not to harm us, but to bring us good. (He is not out to get us!)
- Plans for “a future and a hope!” King James reads: “an expected end.” The word for expected, “tiqvah,” means, a cord, or an attachment that helps you reach your goal, one meaning is “the thing that I long for;” hope! I keep seeing the farmer’s life-line that he rigs up to help him find the barn during a blizzard! He “expects” to reach the barn every day, no matter what, to milk the cow and care for the livestock. In a blinding blizzard the rope is his only hope of finding the barn & making it back to his warm fire. Otherwise, he is lost! So, God has holy intentions toward us! And they are all “SHALOM!” One of the names for Christ is Sar Shalom – Prince of Peace. We find every promise in Him. I love that He has given us a future to reach for, and hope to hold on to.. I am calling it the “Rope of Hope!” Our expectations come from being attached to Him with the beautiful, golden cord (tiqvah) of hope. Hope is the lifeline that we all will need because eventually our plans come to a screeching halt. We will feel like we are groping along in a blinding blizzard, but if we will stay attached to His lifeline we will reach the “expected end.” Let’s Pray: Oh, Prince of Peace, our Sar Shalom, help us to seek after you with all of hearts, that we might grasp the cord of your intended plan for our life. May we learn to trust that Your intentions are righteous whether we can see where You are leading us or not. Holding on to hope let, us live out the destiny you have planned…all things working together for our good and Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!