Jeremiah 29:11 “‘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.'” This was the verse inscribed on my bible when I made my confirmation at 13. It was the verse the pastor who had taught the confirmation class spoke to me after I had finished my oral exam in front of the church and handed me my certificate. Initially, I didn’t want to hear it. It wasn’t that I was I was against God, I had shared my testimony, gone to the classes, and done all the homework, it was because I knew he didn’t like me. We butted heads constantly during class. My class of three kids made it impossible to hide. His disapproval of me, on an almost cellular level, affected me, and we held each other in mutual contempt. Our disdain for each other was palpable. And so, I missed the message.
I’m not sure why he disliked me so much; it felt like he simply opposed our existence in his church. It was true we didn’t quite fit in. We were not as well-heeled as many of the parishioners; we weren’t of the same background, which made us stand out. My mother was a single parent, we were of working-class stock, and it showed. I was generally exceedingly respectful of adults, but I warred against his condescension every chance I got over the course of the class. It wasn’t enough to say something was true because it was in the catechism, I wanted the proof from the bible and thorough explanation. He didn’t like that I wouldn’t take him at his word. Though I was just a child, I refused to believe anything he said until he could prove it to me. I was only a child, I reasoned, and anyone who felt about me- a child- the way he – an adult- did, couldn’t be trusted. So I missed the message.
My mother didn’t.
God’s plans for me became her mantra. She spoke that verse over me for the rest of her life. From the depths of her soul, she held on to that promise for me. She might not have known what would become of me, but she had faith that not only did God, but he planned it, and it was good.
The bible says a lot about plans.
Some verses are blessings:
Psalm 20:4 May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
Proverbs 16:3 Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
Isaiah 32:8 But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds, they stand.
Some are advice:
Proverbs 20:18 Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without wise advice.
Proverbs 15:22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed.
Proverbs 21:5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
Still, others speak of the repercussions of not following the Lord:
Psalm 33:10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
Many are educational:
Proverbs 16:1 The plans of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.
Isaiah 29:15 What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their evil deeds in the dark! “The LORD can’t see us,” they say. “He doesn’t know what’s going on!”
Some verses address the sorrows that accompany failed plans.
Job 17:11 “My days are past, my plans are torn apart, Even the wishes of my heart.
Psalm146:5 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.
If I were to distill these verses down to a few messages, they would be that God wants the best for us, so ask Him and those who know Him for guidance. Make sure you are following His will, and He will make you succeed. I lean on that verse now, for myself and my family. I want to do what God wants for my life. It’s funny how your desires and plans line up with His will when you begin to ask Him for guidance. It doesn’t matter to me now where this track will lead or how far down the road I can see. It doesn’t matter if I am traveling in the light or the dark. It only matters that I am following Him because He knows the plans He has for me, plans to prosper and not to harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future.