Jeremiah 29:11 is my life verse:
For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
The first time I heard it, I was sitting in a divorce recovery class doodling on my worksheet; I was extremely discouraged and heartbroken.
When the facilitator read the words of the prophet Jeremiah telling the discouraged Jews, who were in exile, to stay encouraged because God had a good plan for them, it caught my attention.
I could relate: I was currently held captive to fear, rejection and hopelessness. When I heard those words, that God that had a plan for me — a good plan with a future and a hope — it changed the trajectory of my journey. Hope emerged. The hope that better days were ahead encouraged me to keep walking through the seemingly endless valley of hard days.
Even now, I continue to walk. Hope prods me along when I am discouraged. Hope makes me anticipate the good plan to come. Hope keeps me looking for what is next. I image the abundant joy when I finally reach the pinnacle of dreams fulfilled. I want to stand tall on the mountaintop and overlook the valley and rejoice that I made it. I long to languish in the midst of God’s perfect plan.
Today, when I read Jeremiah 29:11, I paused on the word good. As I do every morning, I had been journaling my thoughts and prayers. Past disappointments crowded my mind and spilled out on the page. I thought of the good things, which I felt were promises of the Lord, that had still not yet “come to pass.” I mentally shook off the threatening discouragement and focused, once again, on what was next.
And then I had an ah-ha moment.
Years ago, I realized that when I go shopping, I stand at one rack of clothes, but look ahead to the next rack thinking it might hold something better. As a result, I miss the good that is on the rack right in front of me.
Like my shopping practice, I realize I have been looking at God’s good plan as an event-to-come. My focus has been on the next step I need to take to get me to the fulfillment of His good plan, in the least possible steps and in the quickest amount of time. As a result, I am missing His good plan that is right in front of me.
I do believe there will be fulfillment of God-given dreams and God-inspired goals, yet His good plan is in the culmination of the encounters, experiences and opportunities that daily bring me to the Cross.
My pursuit should not be what comes next, but instead, on what is in front of me at this very moment. Right now, I need to be Christlike in my words, attitudes and actions. I need to be obedient to His promptings. I need to pursue His holiness.
So while I may glance ahead, I need to focus on the here and now. Otherwise, I will miss the good right in front of me.