What If God Has Other Plans?How’s life going for you? Everything working out the way you planned?
Funny how the road we travel can be so different from the one we mapped out. Detours lead us in unexpected directions. The scenery may be nothing like what we envisioned. Even our destination changes—because the journey is changing us.
Is that really a surprise? After all, life is a road under constant construction. Only, unlike a real highway, it takes its own course. We plan to go here, but we wind up there. We plan to do this, but life tosses in that. We plan, but . . .
What if God has other plans?
While you lay the groundwork for your kingdom—education, work, possessions, relationships, marriage, and so on—God is intent on building his kingdom more deeply into and through your life. The two aren’t necessarily in conflict, so don’t let that thought alarm you. It’s a good, very Book-of-Proverbs thing to make plans rather than live haphazardly. Just remember, God has his own priorities. His ultimate interest isn’t in what you do, what you acquire, or what you accomplish. It’s in whom you become.
God Had Other Ideas
When I first became a disciple of Jesus in my early twenties—when he so changed me and filled me with his Spirit that my passion for him was a consuming fire—I was certain I knew his plan for my life. He had given me the gift of music, and he would surely use it in a big way. I would have a “mighty ministry.” I would do great things for God. My path to high impact for Jesus and his kingdom seemed clear, straight, and smooth.
My confident young faith left no place for tears, or loss, or heartbreak. I hadn’t factored in questioning, or confusion, or struggle, or loneliness, or broken dreams, or the results of my own naivete and bad choices. They all came just the same, over the years and the decades. But so did occasional, remarkable affirmations that my Lord loved me and knew my address in life. Through the best and the worst, he was with me, just as he is with me now. He has never let me go. He has cared for me, kept my boat afloat through the storms, bid me to walk on water, placed me in the company of humble kings and queens in his kingdom, and given me grand, wild views lit by a joyous sunshine I’d never have known had life turned out according to my expectations. Above all, he has brought me to know him—his heart, his character, his companionship, who he really is. I wouldn’t trade those things for anything else.
Life is the chisel God uses to shape the character of his Son in us. It’s about coming to look more and more like Jesus. The apostle Paul put it like this:
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.” (Romans 8:29)
Our heavenly Father is committed to that goal because he knows that in it lie true freedom and joy, life and abundance, our best and highest. But he’s not above messing with our plans in the process.
God’s Plan for Our Plans
I think the balance is this: we’re to commit our endeavors to the Lord and work diligently toward them but not hold them so tightly that we can’t let go. James, not one to mince words, writes,
Listen carefully, those of you who make your plans and say, “We are traveling to this city in the next few days. We’ll stay there for one year while our business explodes and revenue is up.” The reality is you have no idea where your life will take you tomorrow. You are like a mist that appears one moment and then vanishes another. It would be best to say, “If it is the Lord’s will and we live long enough, we hope to do this project or pursue that dream.” (James 4:13–15 VOICE)
That’s perspective. That’s humility. That, if you will, is reality.
Be assured that your life is imbued with a significance that transcends anything you can engineer on your own. You might live to be a hundred; you could be gone tomorrow. Regardless, God has plans for you that include your vision for your life but that will also interrupt it, redirect it, and in everything prove far greater and better than you can grasp. For God is aligning the growth of your kingdom with the expansion of his. You may not see all the results this side of eternity; in fact, the best any of us get are mere glimpses. That is why faith is so important.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Yet from there, God declares where his thoughts lead. And his words to ancient Israel through the prophet Isaiah reveal his heart toward you. Whatever the road you’re on is like today, whether smooth or pockmarked, straight or twisting, fulfilling or disappointing, if your heart belongs to Jesus, his plans for you are sure and your destiny is secure.
“You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace. . . .
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”
(Isaiah 55:9, 12–13)