Plans and Purposes
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations (Psalm 33:11)
In this corresponding week last year, we had heard of Coronavirus but life was continuing much as normal. I was one of over 58,000 people who watched an evening football match in North London (Norwich beat Spurs in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup - yes!). And on the packed tube train journey there, in the crowded streets around the stadium and in the ground itself, we had no thought of social distancing - in fact, we’d never heard of it. But as the month unfolded daily life changed rapidly and dramatically, and the first national lockdown soon followed.
Like many people I had plans for the year ahead - a holiday booked, day trips in the diary, meetings scheduled, invitations given and accepted, projects to tackle - but suddenly almost all of these were turned on their head in ways I’ve never experienced before. There’s no harm in planning. Indeed, God has given us gifts and resources that we need to use wisely, opportunities and responsibilities that we need to make the best of, and planning is part of this. But today’s verse offers a broader perspective.
We are human beings with human limitations; we only see and understand part of the picture. But God is God, the all-powerful and everywhere-present creator of the universe. In the Book of Isaiah, the Lord says “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” This is a sobering reminder that we must always plan with humility, with a wholehearted desire to discover God’s purposes for us, and with a flexibility that’s responsive when He opens and close doors for us.
But it’s also a huge encouragement and comfort in uncertain times. It’s a reminder that our Father, the one who knows us personally and loves us deeply, not only sees the whole picture but paints it. His eternal purposes are exactly that - eternal! In what has been a disrupted year for all of us, and a time of great sadness and challenge for many, the one who is from everlasting to everlasting is still in control. We may not see, and we may not understand, but we can continue to learn to trust.
I know who holds the future, and He’ll guide me with His hand;
With God things don’t just happen, everything by Him is planned.
So as I face tomorrow, with its problems large and small,
I’ll trust the God of miracles, give to Him my all. Amen