Bob Greene served in pastoral ministry in California and Arizona for 14 years, and completed a BA in Christian studies and an MA in theological studies, before joining the faculty at Grand Canyon University. Bob loves preaching and teaching, worship, surfing and hanging out with his three children: Justice, Micah and Dixie (the family Jack Russell Terrier).
One of the hardest things for me to accept at times is God’s will and God’s plan, especially when His plan appears to conflict with mine. I know it sounds strange, but when things don’t go the way I plan, I tend to doubt that God has my best interest in mind and even doubt that God knows what He is doing.
Do any of you struggle with these same ideas?
As I write this blog post from my office, you need to understand that I shouldn’t be here today. I know that’s a weird statement to make, but this week was supposed to be my personal time off (PTO) week. I was going to my hometown in California, where I was going to recharge my batteries, play some tennis, spend some time with Starbucks at the beach and do some recording for some new music I hope to put out some time in 2016.
Basically, it was going to be a great week of just being home and enjoying time away from work.
We all at times have struggled with God’s plan for our lives, right? When certain situations and circumstances don’t play out for us the way we want, often we have the tendency to blame God.
I kind of did that last Sunday when my car broke down while heading to California. I couldn’t believe what was happening! I had this whole trip planned out, and everything was in perfect place, at least I thought so, right up to the point that I had to cancel my trip and get my car towed home to Peoria.
Through the ordeal from Sunday to Monday morning, one scripture stuck out to me. It was my life verse, Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
I honestly couldn’t understand why this verse kept coming up in my mind again and again Sunday afternoon. Monday midday I finally sat down and actually read the verse in the Hebrew. This one verse showed me that not only is God sovereignly in control of everything, but He also has a specific plan for each of us. Whether we believe it or not, doesn’t change the fact that God has a plan for us all.
For most of my life, I believed that if I was going down a path toward sin, then that would be the time God would intervene and put me on the right path. While this is true, I have been finding that God doesn’t ONLY work in those situations and circumstances, but that He also can direct us back to His path, even when our plan isn’t sinful or destructive.
There were a couple of things that hit me Monday to really help drive the idea of God’s sovereignty home for me, and I’d like to share them with you because they were incredibly significant for me.
- Our plans don’t need to be sinful for God to change them and move us into His plan (Jeremiah 29:11a)
I’m about two- to three-month guy, which means I can do my job as College of Theology faculty effectively here at Grand Canyon University for between two and three months. Right around the middle of that second month, I start getting crabby, getting short with students, snapping at my kids, having a bad attitude and just feeling exhausted. It’s these warning signs that let me know I need to get out of Arizona for a couple of days.
My plan was to get away for a week and recharge my batteries by spending time with my friends and family in California. Nothing wrong with that plan, and certainly important to get time away.
But, God had an even better plan.
What I have found this week was that God wanted me to stay here and not go on PTO. He wanted me to be exhausted so that He could be my strength and shield, so that I could be emptied of myself and be open to what He wanted to do in, for and through me. While this is not always the easiest path to take, for me it was definitely the most practical and most fruitful course of action.
- God’s plans are always better than our plans (Jeremiah 29:11b)
God has an expected end for all of us, and that end is encompassed in the Hebrew word, shalom (םוֹ֙לשָׁ). The definition of shalom is “completeness, soundness, welfare, peace.” This is so important for us to understand and live in, because at times God’s plans will seem in conflict with ours. Here’s how this truth played out for me this week:
- I leave for California.
- My car acts up and needs to be towed home.
- I cancel my PTO and potentially have to pay big bucks to fix the car.
- My friend Erik (an enrollment representative in the College of Theology) diagnoses the car and finds it needs about $50 in maintenance.
- Stephen Franke approaches me about speaking at the Peoria campus Chapel (which is my greatest joy).
- My manager approaches me with an opportunity to potentially teach at the T3 Level (which potentially means a raise).
- El Niño hits the California coast, which would mean staying mostly inside.
All of these opportunities would have been missed had I been on PTO, which leads me to believe that God’s plans are always better than ours and if He wants us to go in a different direction, then He will make it happen, and it will always be better than anything we could plan or hope for. The issue is trusting that God has our best interests in mind, especially when His plans seem to conflict with ours.
The shalom God has for us is based on the legacy He has already planned out for each of us. The question I’d like us all to answer this week is, “Are we simply interested in our own right now, or are we more interested in the legacy God has for us?”
When we get to the point of trusting God with everything, we begin to live the legacy that He has for us, which is far better than anything our “right now” offers.
GCU is an interdenominational Christian university. It is our conviction that the Bible is the true and authoritative Word of God. To learn more about our Christian heritage and identity, visit our website.