At church yesterday, our pastor started a new sermon series about ‘God Plans’. It centered around the verse above. The first part of the verse (‘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.’) I have had memorized for probably twenty years. It always seemed like one of those platitudes that Christians say when things go wrong or when you aren’t sure where God is taking you. Can I admit that I honestly never read what surrounded the verse? How terrible is that?! So that whole part about calling to God and praying to him; seeking him with all of my heart as it was connected to this verse about plans was not even on my radar.
Here’s the thing. It’s all well and good to think ‘Oh God has good plans for me, it says so right here in Jeremiah’. But what about when life starts going wrong? What about when you lose your job, or your health is taken? What about when you lose a baby, or your child is diagnosed with a genetic abnormality that rocks your world? It gets a little harder to think about those ‘good plans’ because life doesn’t feel good. In one of his talking points, Pastor Jim said “Seek the planner, not the plans.” Nowhere in Jeremiah chapter 29 does God say “Hey everybody, here is my plan. Let me lay it all out for you so you can see how the puzzle pieces fit together.” He doesn’t tell us that if we obsess enough, and try hard enough, we will be able to find the plan for our life. Instead what he says immediately after promising that his plans for us are good is that we need to seek him. And that when we seek him with all of our hearts, he will be found by us. He wants to be found by us.
Wow, did that hit me in all the right spots. Friends, having this baby girl grow inside of me and not knowing what will happen when she is born is hard. I worry all the time about what health issues she may or may not be born with, what surgeries she may or may not need, how long she may or may not be in the NICU… I want the plans. I want to know the answers to all of my questions. Listening to this sermon was like hearing God say to me “Lindsay, you aren’t going to know the plans. You can’t know right now what challenges Ivy might face when she is born. But even though you can’t see the future, I can. I’ve been there. I know the plans I have for your precious baby girl and they are good. Your job right now (and always) is to seek ME.”
Pastor Jim used this analogy of playing hide and seek with your kids. When I hide from Eli, I don’t choose the spots that will be impossible for him to find me. I stick part of my body out of my hiding place, I make noise, I make it easy for him to find me! I want him to find me! I love hearing his little giggle as he searches the room and the squeal of laughter when he finally notices those parts of me I’ve been leaving in the open as a clue to where I am. That is what our God is doing. He is playing hide and seek with his children. He is not hiding in places where we cannot find him – even though he could. He desperately wants us to find him. He is hiding in places where if we just open our eyes and our hearts, we will find him. I’m learning this so deeply recently. It is about taking the time to see him around us. I find him in the midst of the people he has put in my life. The ones that care so deeply about me and my family. I find him when I stop to notice the beauty of the world around me. I find him in the words of songs that come to me when I lay awake at night unable to sleep because of the thoughts that I cannot quell.
So is this a cure all? Has putting my focus on ‘seeking the planner, not the plans’ fixed all of my worries. I wish, but no. Thing is, I’m still human. I still have times where the worry clouds my vision. Where I want to know the plans so very badly. Has it helped? I can answer that with a resounding yes! Spending more time focusing on finding God and listening to him has helped me worry less about the plans. I know I still have a long way to go, but don’t we all?!