Planning for a vacation is sometimes more fun than the vacation itself. Because when you’re planning it, everything is ideal. Every flight is on time. The Airbnb you booked is exactly like the photos. The weather is absolutely perfect the whole time you’ll be there. And everyone in your traveling party gets along so well the whole time.
But no matter how much planning you do, the trip never goes exactly like you planned it. While that’s true for vacations, you also know by now the same is true with your entire life:
Your life hasn’t gone exactly as you planned it.
I even try my best to live out of a life plan and though it has helped, my life hasn’t gone exactly as I planned it either. And this makes us wonder: Should we even make a plan? Last week we began this series we’re calling What’s the Plan?. And we said that God is a planner and that His plans cannot be thwarted. This week we want to begin addressing a question we all have deep down:
Is there a plan for me?
It’s easier for us to believe God has a plan for everyone else’s life than to believe that He has one for our own lives.
Jeremiah 1:4-10 The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Alas, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
Before I formed you in the womb. See, it wasn’t when you were born that God started to go, “Oh boy – there’s another human being. Where are we going to find a purpose for this one?” Before I formed you.
Psalm 139:13-14 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
God was thinking about you before you were born.
This word “formed” has to do with what a potter does with pottery. How many of you have ever made or at least tried to make a piece of pottery? From time to time, we do a staff fun day. For one of these, we ended up at a “make your own” pottery place. You know that your guy here did not come up with that. Sounds more like a staff unfun day to me. They talk about firing the pottery. Well, my attempt at pottery was so bad that rather than me firing pottery, pottery actually fired me.
The idea is that a potter is shaping the pottery for its intended use or purpose. The same thing happens when God forms us. And yet He tells Jeremiah, He knew him even before He started forming him. Knowing Jeremiah and the plans God had for his life determined how God formed him.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about where life begins. God is telling Jeremiah and us where our purpose begins. We had a purpose in the heart of God even before God formed us.
God has shaped you for your intended use or purpose.
This word “knew” is used for the most intimate of relationships. If God is a planner. If God is a creator. If God knows us intimately…then surely He knows the plans He specifically has for our lives.
Before you were born I set you apart. I appointed you.
Your life has been set apart and appointed for a purpose.
It’s no surprise to you by now, but I’m making the case today that God has a plan for your life. But in case you are unaware, know this:
God isn’t the only one with a plan for your life.
Parents. Bosses. Kids. Friends. Culture. Scripture even tells us that the devil has plans or schemes for our lives. Knowing all this is true, I want to repeat something I said last week:
The purposes of human origin will eventually fail. The purposes that originate in the heart of God are unstoppable.
Jeremiah is not going to have an easy life…because of what God has called him to. In verse 10, God tells Jeremiah that part of his calling will be to uproot and tear down. Jeremiah has some hard things in front of him. This is why it’s so significant for him to be confident that God does indeed have a good plan for his life.
When we were discerning the calling to start this church, someone gave me great advice. Here’s what they said to me:
Nail down your calling.
I wondered, “Why is that so important?” They went on to tell me, “Because, Ben, some days – your calling is all you’ll have. Things will get challenging. You won’t always have what you think you need. You won’t always see what you want to see. But if you get clear on your calling, you’ll be able to keep going.”
This is huge for you too. Over the past couple of years, so many people have walked away from their faith. Life has been hard. The world has gone crazy. And so many people only looked at what they could see in the present. And what they saw told them that either there is no God or if there is a God, He must not have a good plan for their lives. This is why we must nail down the truth that God has a purpose for our lives.
Romans 8:28 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.
We don’t have to make up our own purpose, aren’t you glad? But we do get to decide whether or not we’ll say “yes” to the purpose God has for our lives.
Jeremiah’s response to God’s calling:
I’m a bad speaker. I’m too young. Notice exactly what Jeremiah says in verse 6 – “Alas, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” What is Jeremiah saying to God? I know you’re sovereign and have all authority, but here’s why You can’t use me.
We can focus so much on our inabilities that we actually forfeit what God is calling us to do. God fulfilling His purpose for your life isn’t totally dependent on you. In fact:
To fulfill the divine purpose of your life, you need the divine presence in your life.
How does God respond to Jeremiah’s reasons for not being able to step into God’s plan for his life? Go where I send you. Say what I tell you to say. Do what I tell you to do. Don’t be afraid of your opponents. My plan for your life is stronger than their plan for your life. God is always present when we’re living out His purpose for our lives. God gives us what we need to carry out His plan.
When we’re in the midst of a season that seems anything but good, we need to know that God still has a good plan for our future.
Jeremiah 29:10-14 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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
There will be seasons when we wonder if God has a plan for us, and if He does, it won’t seem like it’s a good plan.
He knows the plans He has. And they’re good plans. Plans to prosper us. He’s not planning to harm us. He has plans to give us a hope and a future. But first, 70 years of exile. He’s letting them know, “Regardless of what this seems like, I have not abandoned you.”
We have an active role to play in discovering God’s plan for our lives. Call on God in prayer. Seek him with all of your heart. You will find Him.
Don’t make God a means to an end. What I mean by that is this – don’t only get a relationship with God so you know what to do with your life.
Knowing God is even better than knowing God’s plan for our lives.
We don’t have to make up our own purpose for our lives.
There is a purpose for your life that originated in the heart of God.
We’re going to spend the next 8 weeks on how we can discover and discern God’s plan for our lives. But that won’t be helpful at all if we don’t have confidence in the reality that God does indeed have a purpose and plan for our lives.
Let me give you one specific purpose for your life that you can know today. It comes straight from one Jesus’s last prayers on earth:
John 17:3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
You were made to know the God who has known you before He even formed you.
Jesus, save me from a life without you and bring me into a life with you.