I have to say that this is probably my favorite bible verse in the entire Bible…at least at this “season” in my life. When I was a young athlete it was Philippians 4:13… “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” When I was a little bit younger it was “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16.
Why do I love that Jeremiah verse SOOOOOO much? Because it is a promise from God. I may not know the plan or where I will end up or how I will get there…but God knows the plans for me. And He promises that they are good.
The Circle Maker book by Mark Batterson encourages us to believe that God has BIG PLANS for us…and that “Bold prayers honor God and that God honors bold prayers.” But what if we dream of being rich and famous…”God promises to prosper me!” But what would we do with our riches and our fame if God blessed us materially? Honestly. Do you know? Have you thought through it that far? Would you buy a beach house and a big boat and take trips all over the world and eat at fancy restaurants and buy expensive clothes and cars and throw big parties? Do any of those things and more come to mind if you woke up tomorrow and were famous and rich or had won the lottery? Would you run away to an exotic island and drink rum drinks all day long?
I’m not going to lie, people…I have had those dreams. I have had fantasies of being a leading lady on the Big Screen or singing in a Broadway Musical or even speaking to thousands about things that are important to me. I can feel the excitement and hear the applause and can imagine what it must be like to deposit a paycheck that would create the kind of life where money was no object…do what I want, when I want, where I want, with who I want because I have freedom and money and connections.
And how does that glorify God? Why would God want that for me? Did you see Him in there anywhere? Even if I were speaking to thousands of people about important things that could be life-changing… notice how I said that “I have fantasies of…speaking to thousands about things that are important to me”? I would likely speak on raising children and relationships and marriage and God’s love because those things are the most important things to me…but did I say that I wanted God to lead the topic or the Holy Spirit to speak through me? No. And why not? Because until now…I simply did not understand. I was blind but now I see.
God hasn’t bestowed upon me those dreams or fantasies and THANK GOD He hasn’t…not yet anyway. If God wants me to be a writer or speaker or world traveler…and honestly all of those things are still my dreams, it might be ok…because now they are becoming dreams for the right reasons.
But, if I never speak to an audience of thousands or go around the world teaching God’s love on a grand scale will I think that God doesn’t hear me and that my life is a disappointment or a failure? No. I have already taught hundreds about God’s love…in chapel preschool classes, in Sunday school classes…in my home. Here on this blog. I have shared and will continue to because that is what I do.
God has plans for us. We may never rise above the mail room sorter or the bell hop or the grocery check-out lady or the oil change mechanic or the burger flipper or lawn guy or the janitor or the bug man or the zip-line guide or the preschool teacher or or or or ANY “Job” that others may believe is insignificant. Nothing that we do should be insignificant! Our position and our paycheck do not determine whether we are prosperous or whether or not we are part of God’s plan. I would rather be a cashier that smiles and chats and laughs with and loves on hundreds of people who come through my line everyday than a CEO or CFO or President or Owner of a large company making millions if that means that I am constantly crunching numbers to make more for my own investments…or laying people off to save money…or arguing all day…or having tense meetings…or using all of that money I make to escape my reality.
What is your dream? That is what I have been asking you and me lately…and why is it your dream? If you were given your heart’s desire, what would you do with it? Would it prosper you or ruin you?
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Matthew 16:24-27
What does that mean??? Again, I am no seminarian or bible scholar or preacher but to me that means this…am I living for me or am I living for God? If we are living for ourselves and our own fame and glory and riches then we are telling God that we know the plans we have for ourselves and His plans for us don’t matter.
If God’s plans do matter to me then I have to acknowledge that Jesus is the One to follow because He was sent to be our Way…our Guide. He taught us how we are supposed to live. And that may not be easy. We may be asked to leave a “known” and step out in faith to an unknown. If we are truly trusting that God has a plan for us then we can not expect God to reveal what that is before we are ready to receive it. Kindergarteners are not expected to be in charge of a nuclear physics program and babies are not expected to thrive on steak. That would kill us before we even began. If God granted us our dreams before we were ready for them, we would likely die. We would live for ourselves for our whole life…and in so doing we would die. Why? Because learning about God is a progression…like third grade comes after second and before fourth…like one step comes after the next. Some people may skip a grade or two. Some people may run up the stairs and bypass a step or two. Some babies may go from eating milk to cereal to baby food …or may skip to tiny bites of “real food”. But this is the deal…God reveals Himself to us when we are ready. And He will never reveal Himself to us if we are not looking for Him. He IS everywhere…and always waiting to be seen and sought, but if we are living our lives in our tiny selfish way, we will not be looking in the place where He can be found.
When we stop living by our own plan for our own reasons…when we give up the life that we know because we are ready to look for MORE… then we will find Him. When we give up our life for God’s plans then we will find what we are truly here to do. No matter what our “job”… be it mother, father, preacher, teacher, actress, artist, garbage man….whatever …we can glorify God by the things that we do and the words that we say and the light that we shine. It is all about what motivates me…am I motivated by selfish ambition or by money or by human popularity or am I motivated by the knowledge that there is a plan for my life…and while I don’t know what it is, God does. And it is a good plan. I have to trust Him that He knows better than I do. And if I dream big, is it for God’s glory? Is my life for God’s glory? When God and His angels asks us what we have done here on earth with this gift of life that we have been given, what will we say? Do you have an answer? It matters.