Content & Images © 2008-2014 - Rachel Miller, Ink Road Originals LLC, All Rights Reserved

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Herd's Plans and the Shepherd's Plan

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. --Proverbs 19:21 NIV
A couple of days ago, I wrote out a list of things I wanted to get done this week.  Within minutes, I had filled an entire page, one item per line, and frankly I think I might have missed a few things.  The sight of this list stressed me a little bit.  It's not that anything had actually changed, but suddenly I was confronted with the reality that I have a lot of irons in the fire--possibly too many--and the only way to simplify my life is to complicate it further for a little while.
Most of us live this way all the time.  In fact, I'm pretty sure others I know are leading more complicated lives than I am.  I'm also fairly certain that at the heart of a lot of those struggles is the desire to fulfill needs, such as the need for food and shelter, and the need for companionship.  There's nothing wrong with that, but today I wanted to pose a more basic, Christian question: Do our little plans line up with God's big Plan?
As Proverbs 19:21 tells us, we can make a lot of plans for our lives, but God can prevent us from carrying them out if they are not a part of His Plan.  When I say "His Plan" I don't just mean His plan for us as individuals, since He really has a Plan for the entire world, for all history, and He is carrying that out now.  He wants to bring as many people as He can into a personal relationship with Him (2 Peter 3:9), and He wants to bring about lasting peace and justice, and a final end to wicked and harmful plans that have torn this world for so long (Isaiah 61: 1-3).

He has made plans for this world to accomplish this purpose, and He is actively carrying out this purpose daily, both on an individual basis and a grand scale.  Although He gave us all free will, which complicated things greatly, He herds us like sheep in the direction of history (history being the unfolding of His plan), and He deposes kings or holds them in office (Daniel 2: 21), if necessary, to direct the flow of history.  It is all for a good purpose, but sometimes only visible to us when we look back over the path we've come.

Mercifully, a fairly simple instruction manual has been given to us to see how our plans line up with God's Plan.  God gave us the Bible, with the purpose of giving us hints and outright statements about His Plan, as well as basic instructions for life, which are meant to guide us gently along that path of history.  He didn't make this a struggle or a never-ending search, because He wanted us to quickly find peace in knowing Him, and knowing where we're going (Matthew 11: 29-30).  I'm not saying that life is easy as a Christian (I think I've explained that plenty of times on this blog), but I do know that it's easier if we agree with the Shepherd, and only have to endure the buffeting of other sheep who are trying to go their own way.

On top of that instruction manual, God sent us His son, Jesus Christ, to give us a living example of how to pattern our lives and our plans after His great Plan.  Jesus revealed with His life the Plan of God (2 Timothy 1: 9-10), and on top of that, He came so we could all have a chance to get back on track, even though we'd strayed from the Plan (Romans 5:8).

Today, as we tackle our to-do lists, I pray that we'll remember God's Plan, even in the midst of our menial tasks.  That way, when we do things, we will do them in the way that pleases God, and which welcomes His purpose for the world.  Remembering that God has a greater purpose and a Plan gives deeper meaning and significance to every little thing that we do.  His purpose is not an earthly kingdom built by human hands, but a spiritual one that He has been building in us, and through us.  Let us glorify Him, and His kingdom, in our daily living.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. --Colossians 3: 23, 24 NIV