Jeremiah 29:11-14, Philippians 3:12 -14
Tracy Williamson on God's plan for our lives
Trying to move forward after a time of great change can be tricky, especially when our hopes and dreams have been stamped on by an invisible enemy like Covid-19. We've seen our loved ones get ill or struggle on their own; our education has suffered; we've been furloughed or made redundant
One of the most quoted Bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11, "I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future." Are those words personal? Does God have plans for me and want my future to be full of hope?
Understanding that God has plans for us is exciting but can also be scary as we fear being dictated to. Why should I follow God's plans? I'd prefer to just make my own!
Like many of us, I grew up in a dysfunctional home and my every action or word was scrutinised negatively. I was frequently told I was useless, mental and pathetic and came to believe these words were true. When I became a Christian that passage from Jeremiah 29 brought alive all the negatives from my past. I was afraid that God would force me along a path that I did not want to walk. Many feel like this especially if they've had similar childhood experiences. Once when I was working as a volunteer in a school, I was trying to share my faith, but a pupil said, 'I can't believe in God because I don't want to become a missionary.'
I was surprised. 'Why would God ask you to become a missionary?' It turned out that her parents had sponsored several missionaries who'd all been unmarried and childless. She'd been left feeling that believing in God meant having to give up your dreams and follow a lonely path.
The wonderful truth is that far from blotting out our dreams, God wants to bring them to fulfilment. Psalm 139:13 -14 says,"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
The Psalmist is full of joy seeing how God has woven amazing things in his life to create him, David. I realised that God had woven things in my life too, to make me Tracy, a unique person whom he had created in love and wanted to bring joy and fulfilment.
We are all unique and his plans for us fit that uniqueness. Jesus said to Peter and Andrew, 'Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.' He spoke their language but gave them a bigger understanding of what their natural gifts and experiences could open up for them if they entrusted themselves to him.
When I was 21, my self-esteem was low and as a deaf person I'd found teaching (my chosen career) so hard. I kept failing and felt despairing. Step by step God opened doors to things in my life that I would never have dreamed would be possible for me. I joined the ministry of Marilyn Baker, a blind Gospel singer/songwriter. I thought I would just be helping with packing her bags for her trips,. but at her first concert she asked me to tell my story. I was terrified but it revealed something amazing, that despite all my fears and life hurts, I loved communicating about God's love. Since then he's opened other doors too. I'd always loved reading and longed to be a writer and I'm now about to have my 8th book published! I'd also wanted to teach - the classroom wasn't right for me, but now I lead workshops in our own conferences! It's as if the seeds of all these things were within me. On my own I couldn't make them happen but with him those seeds have blossomed. He longs to do that for you too.
He wants to be at your side as you move forward in your life. He has plans for you and they fit you exactly because he made you and knows you more intricately than you can even know yourself. Don't be afraid. He isn't going to squash you. But he is going to enable you to take steps, to soar and grow fully into all you are meant to be.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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