"God has a plan for your life," I told my daughter nearly every night ever since she was a baby. I wanted her to know that God had a purpose in her existence and to feel her sense of worth.
One night when she was four years old and I was tucking her in bed, she asked, "Where is my plant?"
"Your plant?" I questioned, furrowing my forehead in confusion.
"Yes, my plant!" she insisted. "You keep telling me God has a plant for my life and I keep wondering when He's going to give it to me."
She is 15 years old now, and whether God has a plant or a plan, she still wants it now. She wants to see the blueprint of her life all mapped out - college, career, husband, family, etc. At least she is firmly convinced that God has something in mind for her.
Or is that such a good thing? She is so firmly certain that God has a plan for her life, that her choices that she makes now will not necessarily impact that. In fact, she says that maybe God wants her to make specific mistakes so she can be more usable.
This thinking is totally foreign to me. When I was a teenager, I never really felt for certain God had a plan for my life, and if He did, I was pretty certain I kept messing it up. I figured He gave up on me. I know better than that now. This is why it seemed so important for me to let my children know that they were significant to God and He had a plan and purpose for their existence.
It's hard trying to teach the balance between God's sovereignty and our responsibility. Just because God has a plan doesn't mean it will be fulfilled when we deliberately choose our own way instead of His. Maybe it would have been better if I had said that God had a "dream" for her life.
God has a dream for how He wants us to live and how we become a greater reflection of Him. But sometimes we resist. Sometimes we can choose sin. Sometimes we think our own way is easier or we'll miss out on something if we go His way. Sometimes we can turn our back on Him and the dream might never be realized. Then we miss it.
But I also think that when we've missed it and we turn back to Him, he weaves our mistakes into the plan, His dream, and can change them into something beautiful. The biggest key is in our turning back to Him. Still, the road might be more difficult as a result of our choices. But for God, nothing is wasted.
Just when Satan thinks he's winning, God graciously takes the defeat and turns it into a magnificent victory. Just like the cross. Except in the cross, there were never any "mistakes". Jesus was obedient to the very end. God knew before He created the world that there would have to be the cross.
So how do we live God's plan for our lives? I think that no matter what is thrown our way, He wants us to lean hard on Him, depend on Him, follow His ways. He wants us to know Him and His ways more by studying the Scripture and listening to the assurances He places on our hearts. He wants us to talk to Him and to listen so that we can see from His perspective. He wants us to believe Him, trust Him, and to obey Him. He wants us to love others and to show them His greatness.
If we are doing these things, then we are living His plan, no matter where the road takes us--even if it doesn't fit the neat little map we have pictured in our minds, even if it's through the valleys of the shadow of death. It's always worth it to obey the Father and trust Him - just like Jesus. If we do, in the end our joy will be full and complete.