Back when I was about to graduate from High School, I had it all figured out. I was going to go to the Moody Bible Institute and study to become a youth pastor. I was so excited, I could hardly wait. My mom, in all her wisdom told me I needed to have a back-up plan. So I went to this camp far away from my home in Chicago to check out this one year Bible school as a “back-up” plan. I didn’t put much time or thought into this “plan B” because come on, I knew I was destined to go to Moody. But then I got a letter from Moody that read, “We’re sorry but there’s no more room for you at the Moody Bible Institute”. In other words, “we’re sorry but you’ve been rejected”. But, but, but, that WAS the PLAN! My thoughts raced, why had God allowed this road block to enter my life? This reminds me of an often over-used passage of Scripture around the time of Graduations. Jeremiah 29:11:
“This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 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 29:10-11)
Some people say, “That’s not talking about us.” (But we know that ALL Scripture is useful, so I’ll ignore that argument). You see this nice verse about the Israelites is surrounded by a fact that they were in exile. They were far from home. They were aliens and strangers. Does that remind you someone else? We as Christians are strangers and aliens also. (Heb 11:13, 1 Pet. 2:11) So I think this passage (and its greater context) have a lot to say to our lives as well. God had allowed the Israelites to be dragged off into Exile (yes, because of their sin) ultimately for the GOOD of their character and for the GOOD of their relationship with Him. You see…
Sometimes God’s Good Plan for My Life is for the Good of My Character.
You see, to me not going to the Moody Bible Institute didn’t seem like a “good” thing. But God wanted to use it for the good of my character and for the good of my relationship with Him. There at a school of about 20 students, I had no one else I was close to (I didn’t have friends or know anyone there), I was alone and I felt like I was in exile. To God, I was RIGHT where HE wanted me. Because He wanted to work on my relationship with Him and make it stronger, better, deeper for MY GOOD.
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:3-6)
So what about when bad things happen to God’s children? I mean it seemed like a bad thing that had gotten rejected from Moody. To me, the “PLAN” was falling apart, this was not how it was supposed to go. But let’s remember, that God’s definition of “good” isn’t always our definition of “good”. See when I think of “good” I think “happy”, “comfortable”, “cool”, “not-stressful”. But see often God’s good plan for my life is for the good of my character, and He knows that my character won’t get stretched and I that I won’t grow if I’m always “comfortable” and never “stressed”. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)
I recently heard someone tell someone else when something bad happened in their life that it was God’s way of “punishing” them. I was flabbergasted when I heard this, how could someone believe that God is out to punish us by letting random bad things happen simply because we messed up or even sinned? I’m not saying God doesn’t allow consequences for our bad decisions, I’m saying that God isn’t standing at the ready to “zap us” (so to speak) when we mess up. See it occurs to me that when Job had a terrible, horrible, very bad day and everything went wrong in his life (his wife even told him he should just curse God and die!) that his really good friends told him “God must be punishing you, Job.” But that’s not how God works, is it? See, I don’t like the word, “punishment” because I think a better understanding of how God deals with His children is “discipline”. If you want to read more on God’s discipline in the Christian life, read Hebrews thirteen.
Perhaps you’re wondering…
Why can’t I make my connecting flight?
Why did I make that mistake?
Why didn’t I get that job?
Why did I get sick?
Why am I having a financial crisis?
Why did I get in a car accident?
Why do I have to go to the doctor…again?
Why did I get in a car accident…again?
Why am I doing terrible at my job or at school?
Why don’t I seem to get a break?
Why all this paperwork?
Why is my job moving me and my family again?
Why doesn’t my family understand me?
One of my favorite verse in the Bible reads as follows: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. In all things, God works things together for the good of those who love Him.” (Romans 8:28) So if you’re a Christian, a follower of Jesus, a child of God then God is working in your life and working things together for YOUR GOOD! It doesn’t matter what has happened to you. It doesn’t matter what you did. God can use everything that happens in your life (and does!) for your good because THAT’S how AWESOME our GOD IS. He can do that, no sweat. There are often things happening in my life or in the lives of people I care about and they can cause me to wonder. Why did this happen or why did that happen? I don’t always know the answer. But God is ALWAYS using everything to work together for OUR GOOD. Isn’t that comforting? Isn’t that EXCITING?? I think so. So don’t forget, GOD’S GOT A GOOD PLAN FOR YOU LIFE. It might not always be comfortable, or happy or easy or what YOU wanted or planned, but God can use it and He is using it for your GOOD.
You see, one year at that one-year Bible school at that camp in the middle of nowhere led me to a deeper relationship with God for my GOOD. While at Moody, I spent every summer working at that camp in new positions putting into practice hands-on what I had been learning in the class-room during the school year and God used every summer to stretch me in new and exciting ways. In my plans, not getting accepted at Moody was the worst thing that could have happened to me, but in God’s plan, it was the best thing that could have happened, cause it was for my GOOD.