‘How do you know?
You can’t know that for sure.’
The words came clear and crisp, right on the heel of my declaring a ‘blessing’ – ‘The Lord has big plans for you.’
Coming from one who doesn’t often have much to say, they took me by surprise.
Perhaps if I wasn’t a mother, I would learn it a different way. Master the lesson God has been desperately trying to teach me.
But I am convinced that God is using my children, the ones he chose specifically for me, to mold me and shape me... to chisel away the dross that keeps building up... to reveal His truth to me and to make me more like him.
The hardest lessons come through the mistakes I’ve made. But those are the best.
Have you ever made this mistake? The mistake of implying to others that God’s big plan of grace isn’t enough? That what he has planned for them is more important than ‘Who’ he has planned for them? That somehow there is something that God needs for them to do?
Perhaps you haven’t. Perhaps you have always relayed the truth of the gospel in all of its glorious, beautiful simplicity. No additions. No conditions. No traditions. Nothing but the gospel... nothing but the reason Christ came.
'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.' John 3:16
'Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.' John 5:24
As I sat there pondering my son’s words, I climbed behind his eyes for a bit and tried to see things the way he did.
Within the last few months he had lost both his young, carefree, fun loving uncle who by the world’s standard had not yet found God’s big plan for his life and his ‘I’m-on-the-verge-of-my-life’ soccer mate who was just 19 when he ‘missed’ out on God’s big plan for his life.
And now here is his mom telling him that God has big plans for his life.
And with those four simple words – ‘how do you know?’ – the chiseling began.
What is God’s big plan for our lives? How do we ‘know’ what His plan is?
I think, perhaps, God likes to play ‘connect the dots’ with me. I’m just not always good at the game. But he keeps saying... look closely and you’ll see... the picture will slowly come into focus. My ‘will’ will become clear and one day... one glorious morning you will ‘see’ the big picture clearly.
''For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.'' John 6:40
Looking at life from my son’s perspective reminded me of a conversation I had had with another young man very dear to me.
A week before my brother went missing at sea, God blessed me with a wonderful gift... an unplanned conversation that gave me a glimpse into my brother’s awareness of God in his life.
As I listened to him, I had said, ‘Carlos, God is relentlessly pursuing you; it’s up to you now to...’
And then I had paused... to do what... what were my ‘good intentions’ and ‘well wishes for my brother’s future’ adding to the gospel...
- to get your life together
- to start living for Him
- to go to church
The list goes on.
Sometimes without realizing it we become stumbling blocks to those (of us) who desperately need the grace and mercy Jesus offers.
My brother didn’t need anything else. We don’t need anything else.
In a week's time my brother was gone, and in my grief I had accused God of not giving him a chance.
But he did have a chance. A chance to believe.
God simply wants us to believe.
To believe that before I was even born he knew me... knew I would wander from Him.
To believe he had a plan... a plan to bring me back to Him.
To believe that this plan was achieved through Christ living a righteous life... a life that I could never live, willingly suffering the punishment I deserved for my willful rebellion and offering me His clean slate...
To believe that I’m forgiven, justified and brought back to God... to know Him... my treasure and my joy... all through what Christ did for me.
To believe that God’s big plan for my life is simply to know Him.
And that is enough!
Oh, my friend, sometimes we spend so much time waiting for God’s big plan to unfold in our lives... in our children’s lives... in the lives of our loved ones... convincing ourselves that God has something for us to do for Him.
But what if...
What if we’re sending the wrong message? Inadvertently painting a misguided picture of God’s plan for our lives... like it must show up in a big, visible way or else we’re missing out.
What if God’s big plan for our lives is simply to receive His offer of grace?
Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6: 28-29
And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John17: 3
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. Jeremiah 29:11
I love that verse, that verse about God’s plans for me, but I also think it just may be one of the most misquoted verses of all time.
The more I connected the dots the more I realized something... here on this side of eternity, not every one will be a king but everyone can know the King. And that, my friend, is huge. Bigger than any plan you can envision... a big, shining ball of hope that promises an eternal future with Him.
That night talking to my brother, I had stumbled over my words, but eventually I landed on this one simple, yet profound word – ‘respond’.
‘God is pursuing you with His relentless love... you simply have to respond.’
'...but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.' John 20: 31
'...because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”Romans10:9-11
As we celebrate my brother’s life... I am sharing with you a video clip from 'Anthem Lights'... one that he shared with me... songs of redemption that had moved him in such a way that he struggled to describe it... moved him to sense anew in an indescribable manner God’s closeness to him.
I am overcome by emotion each time I listen to these songs, but I’m grateful... grateful to a God who helps me connect the dots... grateful that He mercifully gave me a glimpse of my brother’s response... grateful for His love and mercy that reaches out and says trust my plan... my big plan for you... my plan to bring you back to me.
Grateful for each new breath that draws me deeper into him, each new opportunity to share His message of hope with you... with my children... with all those who are still desperately searching for God’s big plan for their lives.
And grateful that I can say - 'Yes, my son, I am sure. God does have a big plan for you!'
May God bless you,