"I know the plans I have for you." Jer 25:9
This well known verse is often quoted as comfort for people going through difficult times. My reaction has sometimes been, "well, I wish He would tell me."
It's easy to trot out this passage and others like it when someone else is in the midst of confusion. "All things work together for good," we say to the friend who has had the proverbial rug pulled from under their feet.
All sorts of things crowd our minds when we face adversity - what should I do, why doesn't God do something, where did I go wrong? We think we've missed God's will somewhere along the line and our current experiences are the result of that.
I've been reading the book of Job this week and it strikes me that the way we "comfort" one another is often not dissimilar to the way his so-called friends treated him. Broadly speaking it amounted to, "you've brought this on yourself, repent and everything will be alright again."
Sometimes the fear of making a mistake, of stepping outside of the will of God and attracting the wrath of God causes us to become so paralysed we don't do anything. We believe the corollary of the words of Job's friends, that if we make a mistake God will punish us severely. So we don't step out in faith to try new things for God. We lay out "fleeces" and we wait for confirmations from outside sources.
It is true that our God is a jealous God who can be angry. But His anger is not with those trying to serve Him out of genuine love for Him. His anger is against those who set up idols in their lives or hearts and turn away from loving and worshipping Him. God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to say, "if you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice behind you saying, 'this is the way, walk in it.'" The message is clear. If you want to know the direction you should take then you have to be moving, trusting the Lord to speak up if you're headed in the wrong direction.
We forget that God is far less concerned about whether we're in the right place geographically than He is in the state of our hearts. This is what the Lord requires of you, oh man, to act justly, to love mercy & to walk humbly with your God. Everything else is a side issue. The things we think are important to get right - which church we're in, what our ministry is to be, whether we are called to work with a particular group - all these things are meaningless if we are not walking humbly with our God.
I heard a missionary to Bhutan, sent out by our local church, talk about the awesome beauty of her adopted homeland. "But," she said, "it doesn't appear beautiful if your heart is not right with God."
Prayer College Assignment
When you pray for yourself are you seeking details of guidance or is your desire to have God work on your motives and your heart's attitude to Him? When you pray for others do you ask for their problems to be solved, questions answered, or do you pray that they will grow to become more like Jesus, walking humbly with God? Start praying regularly for someone you know, that God would teach them increasingly to love mercy, to act justly and to walk humbly with Him.