Every good road trip begins with a map.
Back when I was a kid that was a large piece of paper that was impossible to fold. I picture it laid out on the kitchen table with eyeballs studying it, trying to find the best possible route from point A to point G with stops at point B, C, D, E, and F.
These days, you just plug the information into a mobile device and let your virtual navigator tell you the best route while also providing information about interesting places to stop, speed traps, and potential delays. I happen to love technology, but there's something about pouring over that paper map that I miss.
I think it was the idea of seeing the adventure in those little colored lines on the paper. It was turning the idea of a road trip into a concrete plan. It was experiencing the pixels come to life.
Granted, as a kid, it was also a lot of boredom. It was fights with my brother over who crossed the 'do not cross' line. It was staring out the window for hours. It was my mother's attempts at finding things for us to do in the car. It was my parents arguing over directions and driving speed. And it was that burning question that hung in the air of my dad's old Mercedes,
"Are we there yet?"
I'm a planner. I can't help it. I have to have a plan for my day, my week, and know the major events coming up in my life. It's comforting to know what is ahead. It's nice not to be blindsided by forgotten tasks or events. And so when things don't go according to plan, I get a little...
Bent out of shape?
You'll have to ask my wife. She could probably give you a better word that describes my attitude when things don't go according to plan. You get the idea, though. It's something I'm working on.
I'd probably try to justify my poor attitude, except that I keep coming to the conclusion that being a planner and a Jesus Follower will drive you insane if you don't find ways to deal with it. In fact, it could lead towards sin and death if you are constantly trying to exert your plan over God's.
Once you hand over your life to God, you've got to be open to taking a left turn when you thought you should take a right. You've got to be willing to explore options knowing that a door might be slammed in your face. You've got to be willing to go out on a limb with the knowledge that it could break.
In each of those cases, God is calling us into the unknown. That's a scary place to go. But it sure is worth visiting from time to time.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Does this mean I should stop planning things? Having goals? Dreaming about my future?
No. Absolutely not. God can't use us if we are sitting on our hands waiting for opportunities to drop into our lap. On the contrary, when we are out, chasing after our dreams and setting goals for ourselves, then God has the opportunity to work through us. What Jeremiah is telling us is that God has a plan for our lives and we need to be willing to be flexible, to go left, and to take chances because in the end God's plans are way better than anything we could ever imagine. God's dreams for your life are infinitely bigger than your dreams.
Our goal should be to trust God with all that we have, with all that we do, and with all that we are.
Look up. Let go. Leap forward. That's what I always say (actually, I've never said that before and probably stole it from someone else).
So study the map you've been given and make your plans. But know that the plans we make are plans bound by this world, and bound by our inability to see the big picture.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
I don't know what God has planned for you and me, but I know that it is good. I know that God wants good things for you. I know that he wants you to trust him and live content in this moment. I know that he wants you to flourish now. I know that he wants to you love intentionally. I know that he wants to bless you. I know that he has made a way for you to overcome the addiction to sin that this world tries to force upon us. And though the weight of that force can be hard to bear sometimes (perhaps, oftentimes), I undoubtedly know that it can be overcome.
Because God sent his one and only son to die on the cross for us; to take on our sin and pay the ultimate price for us so that we could live free now. And if we are going to make a difference in this world; if we are going to move out in ever-widening circles and change the world, then we have to start living a life that shows people that God is good.
He's already got the route drawn out for us on the map. Now it's on us to have the courage to go on the adventure he has planned for us.
Gather with us this Sunday as we continue in our 'Are We There Yet?' series. It's worth being there for, and it's worth inviting someone to join you. In the mean time check out Blake's message to kick-off the new series here.