I don’t know about you, but I feel that I have had my fair share of trials and difficulties in this life…At times, all of us feel just like Job—our world is crumbling around us, and it seems as if our prayers go unheard.
CHAPTER ONE | WELL LAID PLANS
“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 a hope and a future.” —Jeremiah 29:11 NIV.
I don’t know about you, but I feel that I have had my fair share of trials and difficulties in this life. The times of hardship that we experience are not pleasant or easy to navigate through. In fact, they can be downright painful, and sometimes even devastating and debilitating. Sometimes we feel just like Job—our world is crumbling around us, and our prayers go unheard.
That’s how I felt when I first found Jeremiah 29:11…or maybe I should say Jeremiah 29:11 found me!
I was going through an intense and difficult time in my life. My mother had just passed away from lung disease. My father was diagnosed with lung cancer. I lost my job.
On one of those particularly hard days, a worship magazine arrived in the mail. Printed on the front cover in large white letters were the words of Jeremiah 29:11. I read it, re-read it and then said to myself, “Yeah, right!” In light of all of the bad things happening in my life, it seemed to me as though God had good thoughts and a good plan for everyone else but me.
In the early days of our marriage, my husband and I felt called to become worship leaders. We were both musicians, but we had no experience leading worship. We met with the pastor of a new church that was forming in our area and approached him about the possibility of serving with him. He was open to the idea, and we began seeking God’s will in the matter. After a time of prayer and fasting, we were all in agreement. My husband and I would be the worship leaders for this new work.
Anxious to start well, we chose to dive headfirst into this new chapter of our lives. We poured ourselves into learning what it meant to be worship leaders. We began to fine-tune our musical abilities. We were so hungry to learn about worship that we went to every worship conference in the area and subscribed to every worship magazine we could get our hands on. We were ready and willing for God to bless our plans. We just weren’t ready for His plans.
Have you ever felt that way? We lay out our plans for God to prosper, but nothing comes of them. I was working hard to serve Him through worship, but the rest of my life wasn’t going according to plan. It seemed like God had plans to prosper and give peace to everyone else but me! Why wasn’t I seeing these “good” plans fulfilled in my life?
One day out of sheer desperation, I wrote a song using the words of this scripture. I was hoping that it would comfort me and give me peace. But it didn’t. Heaven remained silent. During this silence of God, I began to question Him and His Word. I began to have doubts, and my heart began to harden toward the Word of God. When I picked up my Bible to read, the Scriptures just seemed to become ordinary words on a page. They no longer spoke life to me. They no longer comforted me.
In spite of all this, I still believed in God. I still worshiped and prayed, but little by little I felt that I could no longer rely on Him. I started to work things out on my own—to fight my own battles. My motto was, “If you want something done right, then do it yourself!” Soon, I didn’t even think about going to God first. Well, it didn’t take long until I became depressed, disappointed, and defeated. I realize now that at that moment in my life, I had allowed the enemy to plant seeds of doubt in my heart. Seeds that, over time, would take root and grow.
Over the years and through many ups and downs, Jeremiah 29:11 kept appearing. It began popping up when I least expected it through the many seasons of my life. It seemed like God was trying to get my attention. I came across it just recently at a woman’s conference I was attending and again a few days later when I was cleaning out my bedroom closet. I read it and re-read it—just like the first time it found me—but this time the words came to life in a way I had never experienced before. I realized that it’s not just God who has a well-laid plan for our lives. Our adversary, the devil, has a well-laid plan of his own.
©2015 Benita R. Houck | All Rights Reserved.