“While we may have a simple plan for our life (to be happy, prosperous, successful and at peace), God wants us to learn to trust Him deeply and against all odds.” (Charlie Cleverly, ‘Epiphanies of the Ordinary’)
I was a relatively young Christian when I first discovered that the plans I had made for my own life were not the same as God’s plans. This world tells us we deserve to be happy. It focuses on the selfish and makes that seem a praiseworthy goal. Happiness, prosperity and success are evaluated according to criteria that simply do not line up with God’s word, for they arise from the erroneous premise that man is the centre of the universe. They are inextricably linked to material possessions and to academic success. Children want the latest toys and gadgets and think these will make them happy, and, if we are honest, adults are not that different either. We spend our lives pursuing these things because we think they are the pathway to happiness and peace, but we fail to understand God’s plans along the way.
When we become Christians, we often transfer these ideas to God. If God loves us so much, we reason, then He wants our happiness, prosperity, success and peace as well! This is true, but what we often fail to realise is that God knows the best way to those things and also has the true definition of those things. Happiness, prosperity, success and peace are found from our relationship with Him and not from the material possessions, academic success or other worldly criteria we think are necessary.
God’s plan is far greater than ours. He wants us to learn to trust Him deeply and be in relationship with Him and He wants us to be like Christ. His ‘great plan’ is for us to be ‘conformed to the image of His Son’ (Rom 8:29 TNIV). That is His ultimate goal. All success, prosperity, happiness and peace are bound up in Christ: ‘For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.’ (Col 2:9-10 TNIV) They cannot be divorced from our relationship with Christ, and He is the Head. We are not the ones calling the shots!
We spend an inordinate amount of time pursuing our own plans and dreams and goals, but my prayer for today is that we pause long enough to ask God to help us to trust Him to work out His plan for our lives and to realise afresh that ‘godliness with contentment is great gain.’ (1 Tim 6:6 TNIV)
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Rom 8:28-30, TNIV)