Sunday, March 29

Jeremiah 29:11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

What Plans Does God Have for Your Life?

Do you feel stuck in your life? Are you living with a job or career you don’t like? Do you have financial issues or problems with personal relationships? When faced with challenges, do you sit back and wait for change, or do you proactively work on finding a solution? Do you have a faith-based approach, or strictly an “I can do it myself” approach?

My niece recently reached out to me with her challenge, saying she felt stuck in a job that made her unhappy. While I couldn’t fix it for her, I could share with her some practical ideas about what works for me when addressing my own challenges. Reaching out to someone you can trust, who will listen and not judge, is a good start. Talking about problems can often give clarity and reveal a direction to pursue. I also suggested that she find a quiet place, so she could clear her head of distractions and think or meditate about what was really bothering her. Deep breathing and letting go of your “to do list” is also an important step in getting your mind ready to ask hard questions, so you will be open to receiving answers. Keeping your body healthy is important too – basic things like exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep are often overlooked – especially when we are under stress.

I am a big fan of keeping a “gratitude” journal. Each night before going to sleep, I write down five things I’m thankful for. Some days it’s very basic – food, shelter, job, family; other days – beautiful sunrise, someone lets you merge into traffic, a note or email from a friend. Keeping this journal helps me focus on the good in my life and not only on the things I’m struggling with. I bought a pretty notebook for my niece in her favorite color, so she can write about what she is grateful for each day, too.

Another type of journaling is a tried and true technique. It took me a long time to actually journal this way, since I don’t particularly like to write. You just put your thoughts on paper without worrying about sentence structure or punctuation. The idea is to dump everything that is bothering you onto paper. This does two important things; clarifies what the core issues are, and empties your mind so you are ready to receive new ideas – maybe even to think “outside the box”. These new ideas may require further research, involve learning a new skill, or networking with others to help get you connected to a new area of interest.

 Along with all these practical ideas, I believe God plays a part and has a plan for each of us. We can take comfort from Jeremiah 29:11, where God declares, “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This is all good advice, but it’s hard to follow. I find it hard to make myself sit down and meditate, pray, or journal. I am always impatient and want to have clarity and an answer immediately. Once we find an answer, it is hard to be patient and trust God’s timing for making things happen. All the pieces may not be in place to put a plan into action right away. Things can look good on paper, but they may not work out in the long run. Rest in the knowledge that when the timing is right, God will help bring all the pieces together.

Wherever you are in your life journey, in the early years of your career or figuring out retirement, remember that God has a plan for you. There are pieces you need to do, pieces God does, and pieces where you and God interact and work together. God really does have a plan for your life. This will give you hope when you are stuck in place. Have faith that when the time is right, the plan will fall into place.

Elaine Woodward, COGS

Prayer: Lord, there are so many challenges day to day that it can be difficult to know how to respond. May the Holy Spirit guide me forward, so that my life follows your path. Amen