One of the things some churches do during graduation is have each graduate walk down the aisle as they describe to the church all the great things they did while in High School. At Gateway Nazarene, sometimes the students are asked to share their ‘life verse’ with the congregation. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t ready for a ‘life verse’ at age 18. I wasn’t even ready for life!
You get a wide range of verses. Some choose Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” Personally, I think this one is chosen often at our church because any teen that was a Caravan participant had to memorize this verse to get a badge!
Inevitably, one of the most quoted verses is 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.
WOW! Doesn’t that sound amazing! And it is amazing. I’m amazed that my God has a plan for me and the plan is a GOOD plan. But wait…. Uh oh! There is a ‘but wait?’
Look closely at that scripture. Notice the end quote before the word ‘declares’. Notice the missing end quote after the word ‘future.’ This verse is out of context. This declaration from the Lord is made up of much more. Let’s get the full declaration.
Verse 10 – 14.
This is what the Lord says:
“When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found in you,” declares the Lord and will bring you back from captivity.”
WHOA! That changes things doesn’t it? There is a lot going on here. God’s plan to prosper these people comes with some heavy, heavy baggage.
We are planners! Some of us are better planners than others. However, we all operating on some sort of plan.
Even our best plans fall apart when we don’t mind the details. But we are human…not perfect.
According to this scripture God has a plan for us. However, keep in mind God has to plan while contending with our humanness! Just like the Israelites he is talking to through Jeremiah, we have to pay for our poor planning. They will pay by spending 70 years in captivity. We pay through human suffering and stress caused by our bad decisions and sin.
There are three things we can gain from this section of scripture that pertain to plans:
- God knows! He knows the good and the bad. Our omniscient God knows…everything!
- He has a plan! Psalms 40:5 “Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.”
- we have a responsibility to work with God’s plan.
The problem is we try to insert our own plans into his. That NEVER works! When we do that the plans go wrong…every time.
So how do we get out of the mess when we insert our own plans. Just like Judah in this verse we MUST:
- Call upon Him (V 12)
- Pray (V 12)
- Seek Him with all our heart (v 13)
Then we will get back on track with HIS plan. That is where I want to be!