I was texting with a friend this week. As we shared updates in life, she wrote “God’s plan is perfect.” I believe that wholeheartedly, but what about when God’s plan does not feel perfect?
The Past Year
For many of us, this past year has felt far from a perfect plan from God. The pandemic turned most of our lives upside down. For me personally, the year brought a move from the town I grew up in to a new city over 200 miles away. I knew one person when I moved here. Thankfully God made that one person be a best friend I have had since I was 12! As we navigated all the new normals to us here amidst all the restrictions from quarantine, it was difficult for me to feel God’s plan in our lives.
What do you do when you believe that as a Christ-follower God does have a perfect plan for your life but it feels completely the opposite?
What Do You Mean by “Perfect?”
Let me clarify the definition of perfect here first. By “perfect” I do not mean free of problems, sorrow, or tragedy. I understand God’s perfect plan to mean that he directs me to places, situations, and people that will ultimately bring glory to Him and others to Him. Even before the move when I thought I was where I wanted to be, my life was not free of heartache or troubles but I felt at that time that I was exactly where God wanted me to be doing what God wanted me to do.
God’s perfect plan for believers does not mean a perfect carefree life but a life that will bring honor and glory to Him. So what do you do in the meantime? When life feels far from perfect and you do not understand God’s plan?
The Next Right Thing
Our faith cannot be determined by our emotions. When life feels crazy, I trust in the promises God has made for me in the Bible. I know that each step feels hard but I will keep doing what I am supposed to be doing- loving Him and then loving others. I love the way Emily P. Freeman simplifies this in her quote “Do the next right thing with your friend Jesus.” When God’s plan does not feel perfect, I do the next right thing in front of me.
Love my children by playing with them? Yes. Take care of my home so we all have a safe place to land? Yes. Continue to do my best at my job? Yes. See a need that I can meet for a neighbor or even a stranger? Yes. Keep doing the next right thing in front of you and you will see his perfect master plan begin to unfold over time.
A Tree, A Rock, and A Bystander
As you continue doing the next right thing God has called you to do during times of trial, ask God to give you glimpses of his plan and hand in your life.
As we studied Zaccheus in church this past week, I thought of the Sycamore tree that God placed in the exact spot so many years before. As the tree was growing, Zaccheus was living a life of a despised tax collector, growing rich by cheating the townspeople. He was hated for it and I daresay miserable inside. When he heard that Jesus was coming, he wanted to see him above the chaos of the crowd, so he climbed the Sycamore tree.
A tree that was in the exact place that it needed to be at that exact moment for him to climb and see Jesus. God places things, events, and people in your life long before you need them. They are there to help you see God above the chaos in your life. Thank God for them. Be one of those people for others.
I think of David as he was about to fight the giant Goliath. Among all the armor available at the camp, he chooses to use a sling and rocks. After all, these were the tools he had always fought with while shepherding. His next right step was to continue to do what he has always done-fight with a sling. He picks up the perfect rock that he slings and knocks Goliath down.
God places scriptures, songs, and people in our lives at the perfect time to help us overcome the giants in our lives-to fight life’s battles with us and for us. Continue reading your Bible, praying, and praising God. He will provide the rocks that you need to slay the giants.
Finally, I think of Jesus as he carries his cross on the road to Golgotha. Overcome with exhaustion he is unable to carry the cross any further. The guard pulls a bystander, Simon, and orders him to carry the cross for Jesus. Still walking the perfect although awful plan that God has for him, Jesus has a little help from someone else. As we walk our paths of life, God puts the right people near us during trials. People that will help us and even carry some of the burdens. Praise and thank God for them. Be willing to carry the burden for others when you see a need you can fill.
When God’s plan does not feel perfect, trust that it is. Continue obediently doing the next right thing in front of you, and know that God has put people, places, and words in your path so that you are not alone. While you are waiting and walking, God is working!