The Gospel reading this past Sunday included one of my favorite verses from the Bible, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” Jesus says in John 10:10.
I love this reminder that God wants the best for me and for everyone. God’s plan for us are lives that are lived to the fullest with all that Jesus came to give us—love, peace, hope and joy.
Another favorite verse of mine comes from Jeremiah 29:11 “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
That verse became a lifeline for me at a time when I did not have much hope for the future. 20 years ago I was going through a divorce–something I never dreamed would happen to me. From the day of our wedding I had plans to be married ‘til death did us part. As our boys grew older, I had plans for a new chapter of life as empty nesters. In my dreams for the future I had plans of growing old together with my life-long partner. But none of those plans panned out.
We make plans and then sometimes they go awry. Like the online workshop I was supposed to attend a couple days ago that got postponed when, as the facilitator put it, the “tech gremlins” came in and messed up his computer. Right now all kinds of plans we made have gone out the window. Weddings, graduations, and summer vacation plans have all been put on hold during this pandemic. Perhaps the saddest of all, we can’t even make funeral plans for loved ones who have died until it’s safe to gather again.
Woody Allen once said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” But I don’t think God gets any pleasure out of seeing us scramble when we need to change course. I don’t think God is snickering while we feel sad and disappointed because our plans fell through. Nor do I believe that God has specific plans for everything we do. I doubt it matters to God whether we choose cereal or pancakes for breakfast, whether we choose to live in the city or the country, whether we volunteer at the Humane Society or the Food Bank, whether we choose to worship at one congregation or another. What does matter to God is that we make plans that help us best sustain our bodies, minds and spirits in ways that are life-giving to us and to others.
God’s plan for us and for all creation was revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The plan to bring healing, forgiveness, and new life to the world God so loved. To give us a lasting relationship that we can depend upon no matter what. So that even when our best-laid plans fall apart, we will not lose heart. But continue to trust in our God who has a lasting plan for our future. A future filled with new beginnings. A future of abundant life. A future where we are part of God’s realm of love and justice forever.
“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
Gracious God, when the plans that I’ve made don’t come to fruition, remind me that I am part of your bigger plan with a bright future ahead. Amen.
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Gretchen, thank you for a thought mediation. The verse that got me through my divorce came from Corrie ten Boom “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” I still have that little poster hanging in office to remind me when I need it.
Thank you for your good words, Pastor Gretchen. Like Barbara, I found myself reflecting on my own divorce some 25 years ago. I am not aware of a single Bible verse getting me through that very painful process. I am aware of being sustained by an unseen Presence that held onto me even when I personally was having difficulty holding onto that Presence. For that I can only give thanks!
Thanks Gretchen for your honesty and like Jim and Barbara I also reflect on a road that includes divorce and the pain that always goes with it. Your words give shape and meaning to that time of troubles. Peace to us all.