Focus on God’s Plans

My expectations, my hopes, my choices seem so important to me. Even for the Christ-follower the temptation is to list objectives and set schedules that are all about the little trinity – me, myself, and I.

1. Looking back on the past year I recognize that many of my plans were blown away like sand but the ones that survived were formed through prayer, the Word of God, and trusted advisers. Psalm 33:11 says. “But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”

2. I am testing all goals, objectives and schedules based on Proverbs 16:9, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” I need to make sure God is in the center – not me.

3. When working on those items which are personal, I keep coming back to Galatians 5:22-26, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” It seems ridiculously obvious that if this fruit is evident in my character, the result will be humility, faithfulness, and obedience.

Let’s be purposeful in making Christ the center. Practically, this means we look for how to join what God is already doing; participate in His plans and resist the temptation to ask God to bless our plans.

The focus is God’s plans for me not my plans for God.

Difficult. Tough. Stressful. Complicated. Disappointing.

Was 2017 a hard year? I’ve seen a lot of social media posts where people have described the past year as stressful and painful and expressed great hope that 2018 will be better.

David, the great king of ancient Israel, experienced severe times in his life and in Psalm 69 he left us a record of his plea for help.  He writes (my paraphrase), “God help me! I’m about to go under; the tide is working against me and death by drowning in my own troubles is an almost certainty. My voice is hoarse and almost gone from calling for help and I’m so tired I can’t keep my eyes open. God, with you I can’t deny the fact that most of these troubles are the consequences of my foolishness, the result of selfishness, pride, lust, and anger. You know all about me. There’re no secrets with You.”

And then David shifts the narrative.

“God, may all the people around me – family, friends, neighbors – who are following You be protected from my foolishness. Don’t let them be discouraged or disgraced as they seek to live in Your presence.” (My paraphrase.)

That’s it. That’s what my focus needs to be for 2018.

Yes, there will be trouble and hardship, difficulties and pain; but there will also be hope and joy, fulfillment, goodness, abundance, and love!

I don’t want the people around me to be detoured in following Jesus because of me. Instead I pray they will be encouraged because I am following Jesus – no matter the circumstances, emotions, or frustrations. Let’s follow Jesus better.