A Joyful Thought - Plans, on Plans, on Plans

Updated: Feb 1, 2019



"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11





If you are anything like me, this verse has been preached and spoken to you so many times, you can't even count. By now, it is second nature. It is written on all of your high school graduation cards and you have used it more than once as your "favorite Bible verse." I get it. I have done it too. However, until this moment in my life, I did not fully understand it. Sometimes it takes time to listen to something that has been said to you a hundred times. Maybe, together, we can uncover what Jeremiah 29:11 is actually saying to us. Maybe the weight of these words will resonate within us in a way it never has before.


First, I want to tell you a little about me.


I grew up in a family that went to church almost every single time the doors were open, and a little when the doors weren't open. Church was my second home. Everyone knew me, and I knew everybody. Jeremiah 29:11 was the first verse my parents ever taught my older sister and I. We used it as a life motto in our family and I do not remember a time when I couldn't recite it. I started following Jesus and began my relationship with Him when I was seven years old. I was baptized the next Sunday and continued learning more about Jesus throughout elementary school.


As I grew, I learned other Scripture and held onto those in times of need. However, I always ended up back at Jeremiah 29:11. It always just stuck with me. (I thank my momma for that.) I went through middle school and high school with that in mind; and like I mentioned earlier, when I graduated high school, everyone and their brother gave me something with that verse plastered on it.


I ended up going to a community college for my first two years of college. I always knew I would go to college, but I didn't know what I wanted to do. So, like anyone trying to figure out what to do next, I said yes to just about anything offered to me; and I declared my major as "General Education."


"Wanna work in the Alumni House in the Public Relations and Marketing department?" someone asked me.


"I don't know what that is, but sure!" I replied.


"Wanna announce the baseball games?"

"I couldn't even tell you the basic rules of baseball, but sure!"

"Wanna join all these clubs, but not do anything you did in high school?"

"Uhhhhh......sure???"


So there I was, involved in just about everything you could be involved in, and doing nothing that I had ever done before. (Yes, that's me in the white in the Snead State Community College Baseball team picture.) There I was, a freshman in college still living at home and going to church with my family every Sunday and college Bible study on Wednesdays - doing my best to keep up with my daily devotions throughout the week.


I soon realized that I really liked my job in the Alumni House. Announcing baseball led to announcing softball, men's and women's basketball, and all of the clubs and organizations I was involved in helped me to be a better communicator - bringing me amazing friendships I will always cherish. So, I did it! I reached the end of the corn maze! I transferred to Samford University, where I am now, with a declared major of Sports Broadcasting and Public Relations!



No longer living at home, it was my turn to take control of my own faith. I no longer could piggy-back off of my parents going to church. I was forced out of my comfort zone to make good friends that loved Jesus and to find a church home away from home. To be honest, I still haven't found a definite church home here. I'm nearing the end of my first semester at Samford and I am still working on friendships.


Today, Wednesday, November 28, 2018, I was reminded of Jeremiah 29:11. I sat down at my computer to write about the spiritual difficulties of college life, but ended up here:


"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."


College is not easy. Even though it is said that college is the best years of your life, I might argue that college is ALSO the most difficult. There are days when you feel alone. You can't run home when you have a bad day. Your friends you've spent years creating a relationship with don't sit beside you in class. It is so easy to stay in bed on Sunday mornings instead of visiting churches. It is so easy to back out of Bible studies because, "I don't really know those people. It will be okay if I miss tonight." Then, guilt sinks in and you feel like a terrible person because you don't have it all together.


"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

You've spent 4 1/2 months with these people and you still don't have a friend in class. None of the churches you've visited feel exactly right. Juggling new friendships, classes, and your on-campus job is like a magic trick you keep getting wrong. On top of that, you just got sick and momma isn't there to make you soup. You can't skip class because finals are right around the corner and your far away from home and-


Hey, take a deep breath, and let it out. No, seriously. Do it. Deep breaths are good for you.


If you read Jeremiah 29, starting in verse one, it says:


"This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon."

Look up the definition of exile. On second thought, I'll do it for you.


ex·ile: /ˈeɡˌzīl,ˈekˌsīl/ (noun) a person who lives away from their native country, either from choice or compulsion. plural noun: exiles

Does that sound like you? You may not be away from your native country but you are away from home. You are either in college because of your choice or because someone told you to go. Guess what! No matter how confused you are or lonely you get, if God promised the surviving elders, priests, prophets, and all the other people that were exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon that he had a prosperous plan of hope and a future for them, don't you think He has one for you?


You get to go home on the weekend! They didn't! You chose to go to college so that you will have a prosperous future, but God already has one planned for you in Him!! There is your hope!! Everything you do in this life, God planned it! He knew I wouldn't have a clue what I wanted to major in when I was in community college, and that is why He presented those once random opportunities of announcing and working in public relations to me. Those random opportunities, I see now, were God's plan to lead me in the direction I am going in now. He knew I would be going to Samford University, and that is why I see evidence of Him everywhere I look.


Are there still things in my life that I don't have a clue about? Of course!

Do I still question why certain things have to happen? Yes!


BUT


It is not my place to plan my life. It is not my place to decide what I will be in 20 years. It is my job to trust in God's prosperous, hopeful, future-filled plan for my life. It is my job to talk to Him, read His word, and tell others of His love.


"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I hope you realize that God's plan for your life is still unfolding. Just think about how far you have come.


And God isn't even finished yet. He is going to bring you out of exile - that place you feel lost in, that corn maze that keeps getting longer. It may be tomorrow. It may be when you graduate college. It may be in 20 more years, but God knows the plans He has for us. They are plans to prosper us, not to set us back, trick us, or punish us. They are plans that give us hope and a future.


So, before you go planning out your life, remember that God's plan is greater and full of hope. So, trust Him. Me and you together. Trusting God with all the hope He gives us. (That's a lot!) You're going to graduate. You're going to get over this hill.


You're going to make those friends, find that church, and you're going to grow from every moment of it. And it will all be thanks to God and His plan for us all along.






Author: Joy Grace Webb

Learn more about Joy Grace Webb







All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™



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