How to Follow God's Plan
- Kristine Brown Author
- 2018 18 Jul
Had we made a huge mistake? We’d prayed about this job opportunity. We’d sought wise counsel from a trusted friend. Then we prayed some more. After two trips to the hospital with our newborn and six weeks of sleepless nights, it looked like this open door for a different job was an answer to prayer. Not only would it bring us close to our home church again, we’d also have friends and relatives around to help out. We could finally breathe a little easier. But after loading up the family and hauling everything we owned 700 miles to our new home, we never expected to face this.
The start-up company that offered my husband the job closed its doors. This turn of events hit hard, leaving us with the uncertainty of unemployment while providing for a new baby. It caused me to question: how could we have been so sure this was God’s will? If He really brought us here, why would this happen? I wondered whether or not I even knew how to follow God’s plan. But through our experience, I discovered life-changing truths in God’s Word to help me understand His plan for my life, and how to follow it with confidence.
When you ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, trust He will.
I can’t count the number of prayers offered up to God before we made the big decision to relocate to another state. Daily I sat before my Heavenly Father asking, seeking, and knocking on the door while waiting for some type of signal to point the way. Yet in between prayers I would contemplate, evaluate, and negotiate with God about the whole thing. I claimed to trust the Holy Spirit, but my actions told a different story.
Sometimes we will not hear God’s audible voice offering the direction we seek. In the quiet waiting, it’s easy to let our minds wander into a whirlwind of questions and concerns. When this happens, we need to remember the moment we invited Jesus Christ into our lives. Because of His deep love for us, He sent the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter and Guide. John 16:13 says, “The Spirit will guide you into all truth.” So even if I don’t have a definite answer, I can trust that the Spirit in me provides what I need to make any decision with clarity and a steadfast heart.
Instead of making it complicated, focus on the simplicity of God’s will.
The more we tried to figure out the best choice for our family, the more confused we became. Through all the madness, we failed to see how the confusion affected our everyday lives. We were already tired from the health concerns of our baby boy. We had few connections because we’d only lived in our current home a short time, which left us feeling alone. Now add the stress of a major decision, and our relationship suffered. We had forgotten the truth of 1 Corinthians 14:33, “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace.”
God’s Word offers simple steps to follow for those who seek His will. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks. These three actions will cast aside all the distraction of our runaway thoughts. When we bring our focus back to the simplicity of God’s will for us, we suddenly lose the urgency of having to decide right now. Our focus becomes how we live our lives for God, not how He answers our prayers.
Know God’s plan may go against what makes sense to us.
When a life-changing decision must be made, I look beyond the immediate and try to see the possible outcome. I think about where the decision will take us. Will we be happy with the choice five years from now? Will we regret moving this direction? The problem with this habit is that I can’t possibly predict what God has planned for me. God always works in ways beyond what I can think or imagine. “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts,’” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Instead of giving time and energy to the what-ifs, we can remind ourselves that an unsure outcome opens the door for God to be glorified in our situation. And isn’t that what we desire most? God amazes me again and again with His faithfulness through circumstances that seem impossible. During our 10 months with no income, we never missed a meal. Our family had a place to live, our needs were met, and loved ones who surrounded and supported us. God works in ways so that we cannot find comfort in our own works. We don’t need to worry about how it will all work out; we only need to trust God through it all.
Understand even the bad stuff may be part of the plan.
When I’m going through the toughest battles of my life, I don’t want to hear that “God has a plan for all this.” I want relief for the moment. I need a reprieve, and I can’t think beyond today to what good might come out of my trials later on. Right smack in the middle of the bad stuff it’s hard to fathom that this may be part of a bigger plan.
The familiar words in Jeremiah 29:11 bring us a sense of anticipation. When we hear that phrase, “I know the plans I have for you,” we smile with hope for the adventure ahead. But what about when the next step isn’t so exciting? What about those times when anticipation is replaced with dread for what’s to come? We may not feel excited through life’s darkest times, and that’s okay. God doesn’t expect us to fake a smile when we’re facing trials and turmoil, but He does offer us His presence for peace and comfort. He also promises this. “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,” (Romans 8:28).
Remember that God’s plan has a greater purpose.
My family’s next step resulted in an extended time of trusting God on a deeper level than before. Each day I had to redirect my thoughts back to God. I purposed to give thanks and find joy in everyday moments instead of dwelling on our situation. Keeping my mind stayed on God drew me into a closer relationship with Him. “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT).
At the end of our unemployment journey, God provided a new job even better than the one before. It involved another move, but from our experience we learned to walk through that door with newfound assurance. We may never know if we made the right decision for our family that fateful day, but we continue to see God’s promises fulfilled.
Ephesians 1:11 reminds us God’s plan has a greater purpose than what we see. “... for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.” When we show God our willingness to trust Him in every situation, we become a part of that greater purpose.
Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing biblical insight with readers and audiences in a relatable way. Her life experiences blend together to create an eclectic backdrop for her lessons that highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. She is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Read Kristine’s weekly devotions and Bible study resources at kristinebrown.net or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/rdonar