You’ve probably heard me share this tidbit already, but our bedtime ritual involves a little mantra I repeat to the kids, “I love you. I’m proud of you. And God has a special plan for your life.” They smile and listen. Though I’m not always sure they grasp the weight of the words, they feel the security of them. Sometimes my oldest child will ask, “Mom, what is that plan?” (She likes to make lists and know what to expect.) “How did you know what God’s plan was for you?”
Yeah, easy questions, I know. Seeing as honesty proves best, I respond along these lines: “I don’t always know exactly what God’s plan is, but I pray, I ask Him to show me what He wants me to do right now and I ask Him to give me wisdom to make decisions. Reading His Word helps me discern the bigger picture, but sometimes I don’t have full assurance I am making all the right choices with my life.” I encourage her to keep following Him, keep seeking and asking and looking for His answers, and to just take one more step toward Him.
Right now, I have friends finishing up degrees, seeking employment, turning to new careers, getting bored with old ones, hoping for relationships and feeling stuck in the ones they have. I see friends long for babies they can’t have, lose children to illness, and wish for one more day. I have friends fighting ugly enemies that leave them bleeding in physical and emotional pain: cancer, widowhood, divorce, depression. Amidst these major changes, the stress and discouragement of “what if’s” and “why’s” can turn a person crazy. We want to ask, “God, do you really have a plan in all this, because I can’t seem to see it? I’m feeling a little lost here! Help!”
Although some truth remains in the challenge to “live in the questions,” far too many people need to analyze the choices they are making. Some do seek answers, but in the wrong direction. Not only are they looking for one type of answer, but they aren’t even asking the right question.
“Very few beings really seek knowledge in this world. Mortal or immortal, few really ask. On the contrary, they try to wring from the unknown the answers they have already shaped in their own minds — justifications, confirmations, forms of consolation without which they can’t go on. To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner.” ~Anne Rice
A few of my thoughts on the “What now?” dilemma. First off, remember, we don’t just seek God to find our “next thing.” We seek Him for Him.
Our main purpose to know Him and glorify Him doesn’t require the ideal job, a completed degree, a spouse, family, or even perfect health. He can accomplish His plan through us regardless, whether we’ve constructed our lives into the quintessential Christian mold or not.
Also, be prepared for an answer that blows the mold of choices A, B, C, or D. We don’t hand God a multiple-choice quiz card and say, “Please pick one of these.” He chooses and we need to be willing to accept an unexpected answer. Allow God out of His box.
I’ve wrestled through some frustrating waiting periods, wondering what the heck I was supposed to be doing and who I was supposed to marry, and when I was supposed to have kids, and where I should go to church, and whether I should move…and all those other big life decisions. God didn’t always give me a straight-up answer, which in some situations, I consent was exactly what I needed. I needed to learn to lean; I needed to learn to trust more (I still have a long way to go). I needed to allow myself to seek Him and community and connections through healthy inter-dependence. I needed to rely on His word and drop to my knees with humility. I didn’t have all the answers, and I still don’t.
You know, Jeremiah 29:11 has bugged me at times. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord […].” To be honest, my heart would scream, “Yeah, YOU have answers, but you don’t seem interested in sharing them with me. A little help here?” Not the most respectful or faithful response, but I learned something about myself and my God. He’s reminding us, “I’ve got this; sometimes, all that information is more than you can handle. Trust me. Trust that I’m loving you and caring for you, even if you find the circumstances confusing. I do have a plan, and it’s for your good.”
“Embrace relational uncertainty. It’s called romance. Embrace spiritual uncertainty. It’s called mystery. Embrace occupational uncertainty. It’s called destiny. Embrace emotional uncertainty. It’s called joy. Embrace intellectual uncertainty. It’s called revelation.” Mark Batterson,