Bible Verses on Trusting God’s Plans

verses-on-gods-plans

  • Job 42:2 ESV
    “I know that you can do all things,
        and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
  • Psalm 138:8 ESV
    The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
        your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
        Do not forsake the work of your hands.
  • Proverbs 16:9 ESV
    The heart of man plans his way,
        but the Lord establishes his steps.
  • Proverbs 19:21 ESV
    Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
        but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
  • Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV
    For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
        neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
    For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
        so are my ways higher than your ways
        and my thoughts than your thoughts.
  • Jeremiah 1:5 ESV
    “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    and before you were born I consecrated you;
    I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
  • Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
    For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
  • 1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV
     But, as it is written,

    “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
        nor the heart of man imagined,
    what God has prepared for those who love him”—

  • Ephesians 2:10 ESV
    For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
  • Philippians 1:6 ESV
    And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

The Place You Don’t Want to Be

deuteronomy 31-8

One little dog was shaking, just trembling all over while her owner held her tight.

Another larger dog tugged and tugged on his leash back towards the exit. When the veterinary assistant came to walk the fella to the back, he shuffled backwards trying to escape.

Our own cat was settled in his carrier where he had tucked himself into a ball in the farthest back corner.

Every time I glanced inside the cat carrier, he darted his eyes around nervously and then mewed at me.

I think he was saying, “I don’t want to be here.”

Welcome to the crowd, buddy.  Nobody wanted to be there that day.

Of course, our vet’s office staff is wonderfully friendly and everyone there is gentle and considerate.  They patiently waited with animals and carried little trembling puppies back cooing at them all the way, “It’s all right, little guy.  This will be over in no time.”

And, of course, the vet is where these animals all needed to be that day.  It was for their own good and their own benefit.

Still, none of them came bounding into the waiting room all excited to hang out with the doctor.

The staff called my cat’s name and I toted him into the clinic and set him on the exam table.   The vet checked him all over and the whole time, my cat kept trying to climb back into the safety of the carrier.  He was persistent.  I’ve never seen him want to get in there before, but right at that moment, it’s the one place he wanted to be.

He wanted to feel safe.  He wanted the known.

I felt like saying, “I hear ya, buddy.”

Maybe we all know exactly what it’s like to be where we don’t want to be.

We can philosophize and speak truth to ourselves, knowing that God only sends us where He goes with us.

And He only takes us places that are for our own good.

That’s true, of course, but it’s nonetheless bewildering to end up where you don’t want to be and never intended to go.

When the apostle Paul boarded a ship headed for Rome in Acts 27, he knew the sailing would be difficult.

The timing was bad.  The crew had delayed too long.  The winds were against them.  The port was unfavorable for a winter stay, but continuing on their journey could be disastrous.

Paul tried to tell them not to sail ahead, but they didn’t listen to him.

So, where’d the ship end up?

Not in Rome. Not right away at least.

Instead, just as Paul predicted, they ended up shipwrecked on the island of Malta with the total loss of their vessel and cargo.

This wasn’t Paul’s destination or plan. He knew God wanted him in Rome.  He planned to head to Rome.

But here he was in Malta instead.

We’ve likely been to Malta before also.

Not the physical place, of course, but in Find Your Brave, author Holly Wagner describes Malta as the place you didn’t plan on being and that wasn’t on your map or itinerary or agenda.

It’s still being single long after you thought you’d be married or mourning a miscarriage after the joy of a positive pregnancy test.

It’s unexpected unemployment or a failed business or a rejection letter.

It’s a prodigal child or a broken marriage or a job you just hate instead of the one you wanted.

It’s cancer.

It’s that place of waiting, still waiting, always waiting even though you thought the promise would be fulfilled long ago.

For Paul, Malta was the place where people ended up because they didn’t listen to wise advice and made poor decisions.

Even there, though, when it was their own fault, God was at work, allowing Paul to perform miracles and be a witness to the natives and the ship’s crew.

God redeemed the disaster and restored the journey.

And ultimately, Paul still ended up in Rome, but his time in Malta wasn’t a waste.

That’s the key for me: When I find myself in Malta, I can engage right there.  I don’t need to fret about getting to Rome.  God can take me where He wants me to go in His perfect timing.

For now, I can be fully present in Malta.

Wherever God has brought you, you can be all there.

God is never surprised by our location or unable to use our circumstances.

Even if we don’t know how we got here, God knows.
Even if we don’t want to be here, God can use it.
Even if we don’t know how to get out of here, God does.

And even if we feel abandoned in this place, God is always with us and always at work.

 

 

 

 

Me and My Little Back-Seat Driver

deuteronomy 31-8

I drive around town with a highly vocal, super-opinionated back seat driver.

He is two.

From his car seat, he tries to dictate our destination.  He points his finger and says, “This way!!!” when he doesn’t want to go home and would rather head back into town.

He shouts, “Turn!  Go library!” and then yells “Go back!!!” when we drive right past it instead.

He screams, “Play on the slide!” when we pass the church’s playground.

He wants, “Chicken nuggets” instead of a shopping trip to the grocery store.

More than anything else, he doesn’t want me to pull into the ballet studio parking lot and drop one of his sisters off for dance class.  That just ruins his day.

He is a vocal little commandant, asserting his will in matters of our schedule and destination.

He is determined, loud, relentless, and emotional.

 

He is also not in control.

Maybe that’s the lesson for this little two-year-old power house.  After all, he can’t spend his whole life hopping from chicken nuggets to the playground to the library and back again.

Sometimes he’ll need to go grocery shopping or visit the bank or post office and then drive on home for naptime.

Sometimes he’ll have to go where he doesn’t want to go.  Sometimes he won’t get to go where he wants to go.

Because I’m the one in control.

And that’s what hits me as I ignored the protests of my toddler and completed my errands this morning; no one likes to lose control.

His tantrum isn’t his alone.  Sometimes I want to scream and point and ask God to “go back” or “turn.”

I want the map and the itinerary.

I want the ‘begin construction’ date, the full route of the detour, and the precise moment when construction will end so I can be on my way.

I can be determined, loud, relentless and emotional.

And I’m also not in control.

Sure, I’d love it if life was all about chicken nuggets, trips to the library and play time on the playground of life, but God directs my path to what is necessary and good and true and ultimately for my good and His glory.

This is the hard trust, not just trusting God to give me what I want or what I think I need, but trusting Him in the invisible, trusting Him when He turns me the other way, trusting Him when I don’t know where we’re going and I don’t know when we’re going to get there.

Yet, here’s what’s true about me as I drive my son around town.

Since he’s only two years old, he’s forced to be buckled into the car seat and dragged along for the ride.  It’s not fun or exciting to be held captive and endure long grocery shopping trips or endless carpools back and forth to ballet.

I understand that.  I have compassion for him.  I mind his tantrums, but I don’t mind his input.

I love him and I do care about journeys that weary him and how hard it is to be a tagalong to your mom’s agenda for your day.

So, I think of my own back seat driver ways.

How maybe I’m always asking God, “Are we there yet?”

How I really want to hold the map and tell him where I’d like to go.

Yet, despite all of that, he doesn’t kick me out of the minivan.

He might mind my tantrums, but I don’t think He minds my honest input.  He has compassion for all my fears and how small I feel when I don’t know where we’re going.

Where God leads me, He goes with me.  Where He leads me, He leads me as gently as I will allow Him.

Where He leads me, He leads me with compassion and sweet affection and deep, enduring, unfailing love.

Deut. 31:8 says:

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed (ESV).

I am reminded that our omnipresent God can be both ahead of me and right beside me.

And suddenly this journey feels less like captivity and more like relationship.

Yes, God has been before me.  He knows the precise path that I take. He knows the number of my days and the u-turns, detours, and obstacles I’ll face along the way.

I can trust Him to lead.

He doesn’t just know the path, though, He also knows me.

And while He’s ahead of me, He’s also with me, never leaving or abandoning me (even if He has to tell this back-seat driver I can’t hold the map every once in a while).

When the One Thing You Really Needed to Get Done….Doesn’t Get Done

I had one thing written on my agenda for that day.

One.  Thing.

Every other day was packed with wall-to-wall to-do list items.

But not that day.  I had just one thing I needed to do and  I needed to be efficient and productive so that I could spend all the other days doing all the other things.

My list read:

  1. Writing.

But by 2:00, what I just wrote on this screen so far….that was the extent of my progress.

Amazing, huh?

So, what exactly did I do all day?

A million things, just not that one thing.

I had four sick children with coughs and runny noses.

I cleaned up tissues.

I discovered piles of them next to beds and overflowing from bathroom trashcans.  I found a plastic bag full of them on the counter.  I saw miniature mountains of them here and there where we had chased my baby with a Kleenex.

It felt like the full extent of my productivity was wrapped up in this:  Tissue Clean-Up.

And yet, I had wiped noses.  Made cups of tea.  Cuddled a crying baby who couldn’t figure out why his nose feels like a faucet he can’t turn off.proverbs19

I wrote cards and notes responding to prayer requests and answered messages.

I scribbled nonsensical slivers of ideas down here and there all morning so I wouldn’t forget what I wanted to write about later.

I washed dishes and washed clothes and somehow cleaned a house that still looks messier than when I began.

What have I done?

A million things.  Nothing.  Certainly not that one thing I intended to do.

Somehow when you’ve spent all day doing and doing and yet haven’t crossed that one thing off that to-do list, you feel like a failure.

The dam of condemnation cracks and shatters and spews it all out.

How can you have spent all day doing absolutely nothing?  What in the world are you doing with yourself?  Are you lazy?  Are you inept?  How is your house not spotless and your work not done?

And yet, what good is an agenda, really, if it’s my agenda and not God’s?

We can make these perfect plans and miss out on God completely.  We can push right through the disruptions and the distractions to accomplish our goal and end up lost and far from Him.

C.S. Lewis wrote:

“the great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant (or unexpected) things as interruptions in one’s own life, or real life.  The truth is, of course, that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life.

God’s involvement in my agenda isn’t always painful or unpleasant, but it’s usually unexpected.  Like Proverbs 19:21 says:

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

I am a ‘many plans’ kind of girl and I’ll shove my way right on through the obstacles to make those plans happen.

And yet, here I am this month, Learning When to Say ‘Yes,’ and I’ve found that saying yes to God starts with being flexible.

It starts with offering Him my to-do list and it includes yielding willingly, gently and without complaint to the twists of the day and the altering of the path.

I stink at this.

But, Moses the shepherd out there in the desert got it right.  He had a plan to lead “the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God”  (Exodus 3:1).

That’s when God lit a fire within a bush and captured Moses’s attention.

Moses had to decide.  Stick with his own plan?  Or follow the unexpected.

He chose to bend.

He said, “I will turn aside and see this great sight” (Exodus 3:4).

In The Power of God’s Names, Tony Evans writes:

God didn’t reveal Himself to Moses until Moses turned aside from His ordinary routine.

And that Samaritan that Jesus described in Luke 10…he was traveling the road for a reason.  Others had traveled before him: a priest, a Levite.  They saw a dying man on the side of the road and pressed right on past because he wasn’t on the itinerary.

But the Good Samaritan turned aside.  He stepped off the road.  He took the time.

He walked right out of his own agenda and right on into God’s.

May we always be flexible enough to turn aside and to exchange our agendas and plans for His perfect ones (even if they are unexpected).

What is God’s plan for you today?  Have you asked Him?

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I Learn When to Say, ‘Yes?’

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

 

 

When you can’t keep up with it all…maybe you’re not supposed to

My older girls picked up their knitting needles this week.

They have big plans of what they can make with one ball of yarn and two thick needles: Hats with pom poms to match stripey scarves for every family member and friend.

For now, I tell them: Keep it simple.  Practice the steps, row after row.  No need for fancy patterns or agendas.  Just stitch after stitch until they are even and right.026

We’ve corrected our fair share of lost stitches, tangled yarn and strangely elaborate knots.  Mostly, though, we’re fighting against extra.

I started my oldest girl out with 15 little loops and within 3 rows, she’d nearly doubled the length of her project.  I counted them out—27 stitches now. We counted out 5 stitches for my next daughter and she immediately increased that to 10.

It’s not purposeful, of course.  Just an inadvertent grabbing of yarn in the wrong place, slipping on two loops where there should be only one, until finally their project has doubled in size.  And if I let them continue unhindered, it’d triple and more.

So I pull out the row and  start them again.

This is how you grab just one loop at a time.  This is how you count your stitches after each row.

But it’s just so easy with momentary distractions and the way we pick up speed to do this, too.

This month, I’m learning to create in order to draw near to the presence of our Creator God.  As I pull out these knots of string, I think how God is at work in me.

He starts me out with 15 simple loops of yarn.  He establishes the rhythm and the pattern, and He measures out the resources so I’ll have enough for all I need.

I focus at first and watch each stitch carefully.

Then I begin to rush and think about other things.  People ask me questions.  I look away instead of on my project.

Somehow I’ve slipped on extra stitches.  God asked me to do 15.  Just 15.  So simple.  He gave me enough.

But now I have 30 and I’m frantically working, trying to keep up with it all.  I’m running out of resources and fretting over how I’ll ever be sufficient for all this need.

When I finally hand over the tangled mess to this patient and gracious God, He takes me back, eliminates the excess and starts me over again.  Just 15 stitches, Heather.  I only asked You to do these.  No more.  Nothing extra.  And I’ve given You all You need, more than enough, for this alone.

It’s busyness, of course, that rushes us into grabbing more.  We say “Yes” when He wants us to say “No.”  We feel pressured into volunteering and there’s the pride that convinces us that we can save the day.

Usually, it’s all good things: Bible studies, meetings, committees, volunteering and relationships.  Then we find ourselves doubling up those stitches again, and when we read those words of Jesus, they don’t even make sense.  How could He promise us this when we feel so worn?

 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)

There’s another way, though, that those stitches sneak right on. It’s not busyness; it’s expectations.  We tell ourselves what a Good Mom, a Good Wife, a Godly Woman and a True Friend does.Picture by Vicktor Hanacek of PicJumbo

We’ve condemned ourselves right there, always trying to measure up to some perfect standard, tossing on stitches until we just collapse in failure and then we feel it: I’m a failure and a mess. I can’t keep up with it all, even these 15 stitches.  Not like “her,” so perfect and together.

But God didn’t ask us to be perfect.  Or to be like “her.”

He doesn’t impose impossible standards or withhold grace.

In the Message, the same verses in Matthew say:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly(Matthew 11:28-30 MSG).

It takes purposeful determination to protect the few stitches God’s entrusted to us, to fall into those unforced rhythms of grace rather than frantic rushing and condemnation.  No slipping on extra loops of string, not with busyness and commitments or expectations and burdensome requirements.

Protect what He’s asked You to do and do it well, with all Your heart and mind, knowing that He’s given you all you need for just this much and no more.

Originally published May 31, 2013

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I ‘Create Beauty’?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

Rigging Candy Land

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
   don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
   he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all
(Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG).

When my kids were younger, I used to rig the Candy Land cards.

Not so they could win, you understand, because I don’t believe in just letting a child win at games.

I simply hated the cruelty of the setback.  The thing about Candy Land is that you could be two rainbow-colored squares away from the magic candy castle and then draw the card for the Gingerbread Man.

At first, this seems harmless enough.  Who doesn’t want the Gingerbread Man?  Then you realize that it’s just evil fate and lessons in the futility of life sugar-coated and handed to your three-year-old child.

That’s because the Gingerbread Man is all the way back at the beginning of the game.

So, you have to watch this sweetly innocent toddler who was an inch away from cheering in victory move her red Candy Land piece all the way back to a position of certain defeat.

Sometimes life seems just as sadly confusing with unexpected twists and turns and a few disappointments and setbacks.

Yet, surely these are lessons best learned when you’re a little older and wiser?

My solution was simple.  As I shuffled the cards before setting up the game, I made sure the dreaded Gingerbread Man and the peppermint stick guy and sometimes even the gumdrop were in the front of the stack.

Thus, anyone who drew one of those cards would never have to fall back more than a few squares.

Sometimes I wish God would rig the cards every once in a while so life never involved steps backwards or feeling stuck in place (on something less soothingly delicious as a licorice stick).

While He’s at it, wouldn’t it be nice if He gave the game board a big yank and straightened the path?  No more zigzags across the board.  Geometry tells us the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  How about a straight line, God?

Yes, it’s true, sometimes the directions God takes us and the interruptions, setbacks, and seemingly pointless diversions we experience just don’t make sense.

In her book Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break, Kelly Minter shared: “…I have a friend who regularly says to me, ‘Lean not Gal!’  As in, ‘Lean not on your own understanding, but all your ways acknowledge Him, ‘Gal!'” (p. 97).

I love this.  I certainly have the tendency to lean on my own understanding and raise a ruckus of discontentment when God leads me in unexpected directions.

Jonah also needed someone to tell him, “Lean not, Guy!” when he, a highly successful, well-respected prophet of encouragement to God’s holy people got God’s disturbing message: Go preach repentance to an enemy nation that has persecuted and killed your neighbors and family friends.

The disciples similarly needed a “lean not” reminder when Jesus told them they were going up to Jerusalem where He would be persecuted, imprisoned and crucified.

In the same way, Paul challenged his friends and followers to “lean not” when he traveled to Jerusalem, despite being warned that he would be placed in chains and taken captive there (Acts 21).

Jonah, the famous runaway, tried to avoid the path that didn’t make sense.

What if he had succeeded? Nineveh would have missed out on experiencing what “many historians cite …as the greatest revival in human history” (Priscilla Shirer, Jonah, p. 114).

In fact:

When Jonah chose to walk in obedience to the word of the Lord, the result was a harvest of amazing fruit he’d probably never seen coming.  Not just one community in the city or even a handful of the city’s important people believed in God.  Every citizen of Nineveh, from the greatest to the least, immediately believed.  Conviction was so complete that even the animals were made to participate in the government-mandated fast.  ‘Even the great Apostle Paul never experienced anything comparable to what Jonah saw.  Paul never saw an entire city turn to God'” (Shirer, p. 118-119).

Yes, and without Jesus’ journey to the cross, we would not have the resurrection or a plan for salvation.

And if Paul chose the easier road away from Jerusalem, he would never have preached about Christ in Rome—even to Caesar himself (Acts 28).

It’s frightening not to know exactly where we’re going.  It’s terrifying not to know what will happen when we get there.

It’s disappointing when God asks you:
to step aside
to stop
to walk away
to turn around
to go back
to take a break
to cease activity
and to put aside our own plans and visions and understanding of how this crazy life should work out and make sense.

Yet, even when we spend some time standing still or making the disheartening trip apparently backwards, we can trust that God has a plan—a better plan (yes, even better than the magical candy castle!) and maybe a surprising plan (to us, not to Him)—as long as we obey.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.