In this article, we’re gonna look at different scriptures and identify the difference between our plans vs. God’s plan. It’s simple but it isn’t always easy.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can’t see the forest because of the trees?” I have. Not only have I heard it, I have lived it.
I’ve searched high and low to find God’s plan and sometimes it was right in my face, but I struggled seeing it.
I also have struggled with this problem: If I choose one way I start thinking maybe I was supposed to choose the other one.
I know, it’s madness. Here’s a little secret you probably already know but flatter me a second. God wants you to know his plan and will for you. He wants you to know his plan isn’t super mystical, it’s practical.
I have never met a person when a decision needed to be made who doesn’t wrestle through the question: God, is this your plan or mine?
It’s simple but it’s not always easy. We aren’t swimming upstream here but at times I need a buoy thrown, with a guide shouting my name telling me to turn left with my paddle.
You get me? Okay. We’ve become fast friends. I think you can relate to this too.
We love God. We desire to be in the middle of his plan.
How do we know for sure if we are choosing his plan over our own?
How do we know we’re not left feeling our way around in the dark? We can trust God to lead us by the Holy Spirit’s direction.
God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. Friends, we have a man living on the inside of us. The Holy Spirit is waiting to guide us into truth. Listen to how Jeremiah puts it.
God’s Will For Us Is Good
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.Jeremiah 29:11
This scripture is one many of us are familiar with, we often jot it down on a graduation card for those who are about to start “Adulting.”
This is a packed tight promise for all believers. Many doors are presented to us as we navigate life, career choices and demographically choose where we live.
We aren’t reduced to figuring it out alone. By seeking God we can have the assurance of being led to the right door we are to walk through.
A few years ago my husband and I were living in Colorado. I was finishing up school and we were pastoring a church that was a multi-campus church. We pastored military families and adored them.
At first, I begged God that I wouldn’t get attached. Apparently, He didn’t want that. I fell hard for this group along with their ankle-biter kids who wrapped their little arms around my legs like velcro. Their faces and hugs had me at hello.
We started sensing God was bringing change and we would move. I didn’t want to hear this from God because I had grown so attached in my heart to this sweet church. My husband and I didn’t desire this but we knew inside it was God’s will.
What? Now that my heart bonded I have to say Goodbye. I wrestled through why God allowed me to get attached only for us to say, We’re leaving.
We were dealing with aging parents in two different states. I understood but struggled. I wanted to honor God and our parents but my flesh wanted a say but I knew what God was leading us to do.
As we prayed, it was in our heart to move to North Carolina which would be in between both sets of parents.
We traveled multiple times to North Carolina looking for a home to buy but after much discouragement plus two declined bids on houses we hit the pause button.
We started sensing it wasn’t God’s will for us to be in North Carolina.
The moment we stopped looking and prayed my husband said, I think we’re going back to Nashville. Neither one of us wanted to go back to Nashville which was home for us.
This was God’s plan, not ours, but peace only came with his plan.
The moment my husband said We were going back to Nashville we both felt total peace. Nashville was God’s will.
Neither one of us wanted to be there, but it was God’s will because my Mom became very ill and we would need to help.
This was God’s plan, not ours, but peace only came with his plan.
In the book of Acts, we see The Holy Spirit redirecting them in the direction of God’s will.
The Holy Spirit’s Restraint In Our Lives
In Acts 16:6 Paul and his friends went through Phrygia and Galatia but The Holy Spirit would not let them preach in Asia.
If we lean on our own understanding we might be perplexed especially if something seems right or looks right on paper. Like Paul with his friends. You might look at them preaching in Asia as a Godly thing. Souls would be won. How could God restrain them from this and why?
This wasn’t the plan of God for them at that moment, God had something else waiting for them. He also does that with our lives.
We don’t see some things that God sees behind the scenes when He re-routes us in a different direction.
We scratch our heads when God says” No” to something that would appear to have God’s fingerprints all over it. He might have another purpose for us to fulfill. This is why we walk leaning, listening and looking for The Holy Spirit to show us each step.
A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his stepsProverbs 16:9
Peace comes with God’s plan and His will not our own. God continued to keep the door closed we were trying to walk through. He had the reason but we didn’t have knowledge of it yet. We didn’t know my Mom would become very ill but God did. It’s in these moments we have to trust when it doesn’t make sense to us. God knew where we were needed.
It isn’t always written in the sky concerning the exact path. We must rely heavily on the peace of God and discernment to know the specific direction to take.
There are times there is an absolute knowing. You know that you know inside. It was like that for me in my move to Colorado.
The irony is it took me several years for my heart to be in a surrendered state of a complete “ Yes” to God. Ironic since I didn’t want to come back isn’t it?
I had attended a conference and God gently prodded my heart again to go to Bible College. I had sensed it before but my heart wasn’t ready… God would spend two years preparing me to let go so I would go.
Tears rolled down my face as I wrote the check for my deposit, I knew this was God’s will. He is so kind and patient. He knew it would be hard for me to leave my extended family and grandchildren.
We can trust God to direct our footsteps to the right path.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delights in his way.Psalm 37:23
Live Christ-Centered Not Me-Centered
Matthew 12:16-21 is a parable about someone who was sold out to his own plan. He didn’t consider anyone else, let alone God’s plan. His life was about what He could get for himself. He had one plan: His.
The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And He thought within himself, saying, what shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops? So he said, I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, soul you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink and be merry. But God said to him, fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.Matthew 12:16-21
The entire parable is self-focused, not focused on others or what would please God or even a consideration of doing a single thing that could help someone else. Me, myself, and I were the furthest He could see.
He was so greedy and self-consumed He tore down the barns he had to build bigger ones to store more of his stuff. This is a life of poverty: He was filled with stuff but void of relationships and oblivious to the condition his soul was in.
V 16. Shows all of his thoughts were on himself and not on what God might want him to do. You can have an abundance of stuff and be a poor person.
But, you may not have an abundance of material things but be rich in God, have a wealth of loving friends, and a prosperous soul.
Choosing your plan over God’s plan is painful if we willfully choose to blaze our own trail that only revolves around us.
There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death.Proverbs 14:12
It’s different for the person who struggles but is seeking God’s will. They find it even if it feels like they have run into a few walls. God honors our hearts when we desire his will over ours.
Hitting a wall can be an indicator that God wants to redirect our steps.
We don’t have to live our lives in fear, fearing we will miss God’s will. We can pray to be open to God’s plan over our own.
We can also share our plans with other believers and ask them to pray with us. There is a scripture that says, in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
It’s wise to ask for advice and wise counsel from those who also are committed to God’s will.
God isn’t hiding from us, it’s His will for us to know His plan and to start doing it.
Nothing honors God more than for us to be fully satisfied in him because we are in the middle of His will and plan for our lives.
Wrestling to know his plan isn’t a sin. We usually don’t wake up and automatically have a revelation about the exact thing God wants us to do. At times we do know but It is usually discovered through relationship, prayer, and walking with God.
He reveals it in various ways. Primarily his word speaks to us and confirms the God nudges we have. It might be through a message you hear. It could be through a friend, a dream, a circumstance you are facing that God shows you what to do.
He doesn’t want you to be a robot any more than He wants to be a vending machine to you. He wants your reliance to be on him more than yourself.
Start moving. Faith without actions is dead. Move in the general direction you think you should be moving towards. If there is a misstep or movement in the wrong direction trust God to turn you the way He wants you to go. He doesn’t want His plan to be hidden, He wants you to discover it.
His plan is about purpose. It affects your life and the lives of others. The key is staying surrendered to God’s purpose and plan. God will help you arrive at the destination He has for you.
It always affects more lives than just your own life. Purpose for your life has been ordained from the beginning of time. God poured his fullness into your emptiness. This great mystery is manifest as we walk with God in his plan with the gifts He has deposited within us. We develop gifts and talents for the benefit of others. To serve them with our gifts. This is God’s will.
Trust God’s Process
Knowing God’s will and plan comes back to your heart. Let’s look at another scripture from Proverbs. You can see it echoes another one we mentioned. God directs our paths.
When we present our lives to him and ask for His plan over ours He starts working His plan into our lives. We should be holding everything loosely.
Let God have control and hold the reigns to your life. He knows where you need to be and when you need to be there.
God has divine timing and divine appointments set up for you. He loves you too much to put you somewhere you aren’t prepared for yet.
In Genesis 16 we find Sarai’s plight. Sarai and Abraham had been given the promise from God that they would have a child.
Sarai got tired of waiting for the promised child that God promised her and Abraham. Her impatience got her out of God’s perfect plan in that season and she got an Ishmael instead of Isaac. Isaac was the promise, not Ishmael.
Ishmael was the result of Sarai’s impatience and her plan.
Sarai manipulated the situation to make something happen prematurely. Don’t forget Abraham went along with it. Maybe he was tired of Sara complaining or He was being passive or maybe He got impatient too.
Wisdom convinces you to wait. Wait on God’s timing. Don’t force something early because it’s your plan even if it’s a Godly thing. Wait on God. He knows when it is time.
Rarely does good comes from forced situations, they usually add confusion because they are forced and not led by God. Timing matters. God’s timing is perfect and not early or late.
Our goal should be to partner with God and stay in alignment with what He is doing.
We can trust God’s plan over our own, this is where peace reigns in our life. Remember, God will never lead you out of (away from) peace. His path is peace even when it’s uncomfortable and not even desirable at the moment. If you have peace continue walking in the direction He has led you.
Don’t worry about “missing God” He won’t lose you and is big enough to steer our lives onto the correct path if we have gotten off on a rabbit trail.
I want to leave you with this last scripture that takes the pressure off of us.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, and in all of your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.Proverbs 3:5 6
We can suspend the thinking that screams” Figure it out,” these are fruitless dead works. We have a brain and are intelligent human beings but God wants to teach us to look to him not leaning on our sense knowledge.