The Promises and Plans of God

A Sunset on a Texas Farm

Jeremiah 29:11 “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.”

This is probably one of my favorite verses in the Bible because it is like a promise and a plan all rolled up into one. That God will take care of us and has the plan all worked out.
When trouble hits your life, it can seem like the plan God has for you is off track and that He has stepped away from a promise of care and provision. It is interesting that we judge whether something is good or not based on how we feel and the circumstances around us observing everything through human thought and reasoning. A key to remember when going through a struggle in life is that if we knew what God was doing in the situation then WE would BE God…and we are not.
Pain is no respecter of persons and can hit in life for no apparent reason with crippling force. So if we know that trouble can and will happen in life, the question should not be IF pain hits but what are we going to do with that pain? If you are a follower of Christ, will you trust that God has the plan all worked out? You have the ability to rest in the fact that He has plans to give you a “hope and a future” instead of actually blaming him for the problems. If you don’t know Jesus, there is a place to take the hurt and pain you may feel right now. The Bible talks about God giving us a “peace that passes ALL understanding.” Basically, it is a peace that seems crazy to the rest of the world and it is there for us if we would throw ourselves into the arms of God.
It is amazing when problems are eliminated by prayers and God instantly moves on someone’s behalf but there are also times of walking THRU the valley of the shadow of death and God sustaining someone which can also be an answer to prayer. No one really knows why prayers are answered differently for people but one thing is true; there has never been a case of a follower of Christ complaining and being mad at God that has changed a situation for the better. And actually, those attitudes have made situations worse.
Today, maybe you are in a place to just thank God for all the blessings in your life and are doing pretty well. Maybe you are in a place of deep challenge and feel like giving up. I have been in both places and made good and bad decisions in both cases. It is important that you are praying and asking God for his will in your life even when things are going wrong. True faith in Christ is built when we trust God in the process instead of turning to complaints and questioning his ways. It doesn’t make things easier to have faith but what have you ever gained in life that meant something to you and didn’t take effort?
Have a great day and know that you have prayer and will make it if you just don’t quit!!

I am a Failure and it Feels GREAT!

failure
This morning I woke up thinking about prayer that started last week for a little 5 week old baby named Lyneigh. She is a child of a girl and extended family that I helped pastor when I was a youth pastor many years ago. This baby had been placed in the hospital and was not given a chance to be able to breathe on her own because of brain complications that led to her needing to be on a ventilator.

Over the weekend I was checking up on her with her aunt and was told that the doctors informed the family that she would probably not be able to breathe on her own if they removed her from the oxygen. When I read the text, my heart sank and I suddenly lost faith. For whatever reason this news about Lyneigh defeated me. As soon as I read it, I was thinking about going to a funeral for a 5 week old baby, the mental and emotional stress on the mom and dad, and the general sadness that comes from losing a child so young. It was the weirdest thing in my mind. I was still praying for the situation but was making mental preparations for letting myself down by God not answering a prayer that I was praying for this little girl and her family.

But God had other plans. Lyneigh was eventually removed from the oxygen and is living! She and the family have a long road, but it is not to a graveside service but to helping their little girl live a full and healthy life.

Then the strangest thing happened. I suddenly felt like a FAILURE after this good news. I read a post on Facebook from a friend who was being transparent to the family about some of the same things I was thinking and it actually inspired me to write this post. All the years of seeing God move and do amazing things for people/families while I was dealing with my own eye issues and I was ready to throw in the towel. I INSTANTLY had a rush of thoughts like “Why did I doubt God’s power? Why did I give up so easily this time? Is it that I am not spending enough time with God to really know His heart? I laid hands on this little girl and prayed for her but did I really even believe the words I was speaking over her? Was I secretly thinking in my mind after seeing this baby hooked up to so many wires that this was not going to end well and I just needed to try and be there as much as I could?”

Then God told me a very simple yet mind-blowing statement that set me straight and, I think, helped me for the rest of my life with prayers I will pray for others. He simply said, “It’s not about you, it’s about me.” For years and years I thought that if I would just pray the right “spiritual incantation directed at the foul demon of whatever” that I could muster enough power to overtake the enemy. I am not saying that it is not good to pray prayers that get yourself or others motivated but just realize that the volume of your prayers do not increase the chance that God will hear what you are saying and pay MORE attention to you. This little baby and situation has changed me and how I will communicate with God. After God spoke this to me, I understood that my feelings of FAILURE were actually an example of God working miracles from me just by being obedient to pray.  I realized that when I am obedient to pray and just do my part to ask God for His power that I can trust and rely on the fact that He has got the whole situation in his hands. I will no longer just pray to “get something” but will focus on “giving to God” the situation at hand.

Maybe you are in the same boat with me but thoughts you had from a situation that actually DIDN’T have a happy ending like this one. Maybe you are questioning if you had enough faith and it just didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. Well the same is true for you as the statement God spoke to me, ‘It’s not about you, it’s about God.” I can firmly say that we will all probably NEVER know why some are healed and others are not. This is not making an excuse to those feeling the pain and sting of death but just reminding all of us that the only real “control” we have in this life is where we put our trust and hope. I have never regretted ONE DAY of giving God control of my life but I still deal with the questions of why every so often. I don’t see it as a sign of weakness in my faith but actually a sign of strength in who God is to me and being able to sustain me in all situations if I will just let Him.