Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV) 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. Then you will call on 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.
It’s that time of year again. Graduations are in full swing. We are no exception. Next week, our fourth child will cross the stage of honor to receive her high school diploma. Our family will cheer her on to the next leg of her journey in life. She is filled with mixed emotions. Elation at completing high school and a bit of hesitation at the idea of adulthood. Celebrating her accomplishment, I find my nest is almost empty. With only one child left, it is hard to imagine what life will look like in a few short years when she follows her siblings in following her dreams. I cannot imagine not being a full-time mom. Though I know the blessings of adult children, it is still hard to fathom after almost 30 years entering this new season of life.
“For I know the plans I have for you…” I have seen this verse on graduation announcements, gifts and many other celebratory items. What is graduation? To bask in the laurels of accomplishment and boldly step into a new adventure. Life is a journey. God has a plan for us. Every detail of our life is important. I know when all the children were young, there was no time to consider the coming of this day. Buried in laundry, homework, and all the other responsibilities – it was hard to see past those days to a time when they would move into their purpose and achieve adulthood. Perhaps, you are there today. Or maybe with me in the nostalgia of days gone by wondering what tomorrow holds. The Plan of God for us is complete. It is not captured in a moment but discovered in a lifetime. Whether you are about to graduate from high school or college or maybe graduating from parenthood to becoming a grandparent, it is important to embrace the journey.
Proverbs 20:24 (NIV) A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?
When our son was diagnosed with cancer, it changed everything. My life was not as I planned and recovering a normal life seemed impossible. On the first anniversary of his diagnosis, I decided to get a tattoo on my wrist. When I look at it, it reads, “Faith” but if I show it to you, it reads “Hope”. It is called an “ambigram”. I do not mean to undermine anyone’s heartfelt convictions, but I do believe that the Lord led me to get this reminder permanently marked on my arm. What I didn’t know was that soon after that our son would go on to have several relapses, halt treatment due to denials by the insurance company, and enter the fight of his young life. My motive in having it was to embrace the journey not the end. There were some days I tried to scrub it from my arm. On those particularly rough days watching my child suffer, and trying to hold on to dwindling faith – I felt like a hypocrite. It seemed that those were the days when someone would ask about it. What does it say? What did it mean? To have faith and offer hope to others. Who was I kidding?
A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. In Jeremiah 29, the small morsel of truth captured in the few verses most often offered are but a glimpse of a much bigger picture. The Children of Israel were in exile for 70 years before the Redeemer would come. A lifetime to us. It speaks of future redemption not an escape from the trials and temptations of life. Psalm 34:19 tells us that a righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers them from them all. Those who endure to the end are saved. (Matthew 24:13) Life is a journey. Your current season may seem barren but there is always good fruit for those who love God. They will see His Goodness and Glory if they do not faint but wait on the Lord.
In Matthew 4, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the enemy. It was a divine destination not a wandering moment. He went to the wilderness fasting 40 days. He was praying. Yet the purpose of his mission was to give us an example of power and authority in life. To know the Word (Jesus) and experience freedom that allows us to keep moving on this journey with faith and hope when the enemy offers counterfeits, substitutions, half-truths, and lies. The Father has already handwritten and prerecorded every single moment before our first breath. (Psalm 139) We are fearfully and wonderfully made declared wonderful by God the Father. The potential in us is faith. Our faith must be planted in the firm foundation of Christ beginning with a broken heart that gives up pride to fully embrace with passion the plan of God for us. He promised to make good of every detail. He said that nothing can separate us from His Love. (Roman 8) For every sin, mistake, fault, failure and more – the Lord tells us that His Grace is enough. Sufficient to keep us on course for the future and hope that He promised.
Ephesians 1:11-14 (NIV) In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
It would take several cups of coffee and several hours to outline my journey with Christ. There have been some momentous mountaintop encounters, supernatural experiences and then some pretty dark patches along the way. It has definitely been a long and arduous journey. My heart has been crushed beyond repair yet somehow filled with inexpressible joy and confident hope all at the same time. How can something so broken carry anything of worth? Because God created this vessel for a purpose, Jesus died to guarantee that I can achieve fulfillment in the land of the living before I enter eternity. I must but embrace the journey. The Lord has chosen me. He chose you, too. He made a plan for you from here to eternity. It is worthwhile containing a future and hope. The prosperity of life begins with a prospering soul given completely to Jesus Christ. There is nothing of worth in this world outside of knowing Christ. To die with Him and be raised to new life. If I choose to believe this, it means not a moment in my life is wasted but fully redeemed by the Lord. It may take seven minutes or 70 years but my hope is not on a timeline but eternal. Rest assured, friend – everything is going as planned. Embrace the journey – there are good things ahead.
Psalm 107:28-31 (NLT) “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.