Saturday, February 3, 2018

God's Amazing Plan for Your Life

I recall when I was in high school, planning my future, trying to prepare myself for whatever career I would choose. There was a lot of emphasis placed on that, or at least it seemed so to me. I went through a few different career choices during my high school years.

One was that I was fascinated by the human brain when we studied it in biology, so I thought I would like to be a psychologist. Then one day I was speaking with my sister and she said she thought it would be depressing to listen to people's problems all day long. I thought she was right, so I decided that was not for me.

Another career I considered was being a commercial airline pilot. I had always been fascinated by planes and looked up whenever one flew overhead in the sky. When my brother went off to Navy boot camp in the early 1970's I got to go into the jet aircraft that he was about to take for his flight to Illinois. I met the pilot and may have even seen the cockpit. They even gave me a set of wings that I pinned on my chest. And when I flew for the first time in the early 1980's on a class trip to Italy, I really enjoyed it. My plan was to either go into an ROTC (Reserve Office Training Corps) college on a scholarship, or to one of the military academies like Annapolis or the Air Force Academy, then do my four years in the Navy or Air Force afterward as a fighter pilot. Then after that I planned to go on into flying for a commercial airline.

But when I told my Navy Junior ROTC (NJROTC) instructor Commander Steven Toby about my dream of being a pilot, he suggested I speak to someone who had followed exactly that very career path. So I called a man that my instructor knew, who was a Major, and he asked me if I ever planned to get married. I did in fact have a desire to be married one day and raise a family, so I told him. He said that if I planned to be married, I needed to be aware that being a pilot is very strenuous on a marriage and many pilots end up in divorce due to their work schedule. He described to me how they would be gone from their wives and children for days at a time. So I ultimately decided not to pursue that career path, since it was more important to me to have a strong, healthy, enduring marriage that would last a lifetime.

Another career I considered was computer science. This was during the early 1980's when my home computer was a Commodore Vic 21, so there was still no such thing as the Windows operating system, which was not introduced until 1985. But I took BASIC programming in school and found it interesting. We were told that computers would be an exploding field and that it would be a good one to get a job in. So I considered getting a degree in it.

Near the end of high school, I enlisted on the delayed entry program into the US Navy. I had been in NJROTC for four years, and my brother had been in the Navy's nuclear submarine program as a nuclear reactor operator in an attack sub. But then a friend in high school convinced me that the US Army had cooler uniforms than the Navy and I decided to switch my enlistment to the Army. When I went to select my Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), my father cautioned me not to choose the infantry. He himself had been in the infantry in World War II and was in the Battle of the Bulge, where his entire division was destroyed by the Nazis and he was taken on a nine-day death march to a German prison camp.

However, the recruiter at the recruiting station promoted the Army's College Fund. The Army was in need of young men to fill the ranks of the infantry, and in exchange for three years of service, I would receive $20,000 for college. It sounded like a good deal to me, because that was a lot of money back then for college and three years was not that long to serve. So I enlisted in the US Army infantry for three years.

After I graduated from BASIC Training and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Benning, Georgia, I ended up with a permanent duty assignment at Fort Benning. While I was there I got to go to Army Airborne School and graduated from there with my Airborne Wings as a paratrooper. At that particular time, as I have explained in my article, The Truth Set Me Free, a young man in my platoon named Alan shared Jesus with me and I gave my life to the Lord. He radically saved me. My whole life changed from living for my own pleasure to living completely for Jesus. I began to feel called by God to preach and teach the Word.

Around the time I came to know Christ, I received PCS (Permanent Change of Station) orders to go to Berlin, Germany. I ended up serving there as a reconnaissance scout on the Berlin Wall, and later as a driver for a Battalion Commander. While I was there, I felt that the Lord would call me back to that part of the world some day to the people behind the iron curtain. So I prayed and told the Lord I would be willing to do whatever He commanded me to do and go wherever He commanded me to go.

After finishing my Army tour with an honorable discharge, I initially worked in a bank as a records clerk, reporting directly to a Vice President. I wore a sport jacket and tie to work and had my own office. But after about a year in that job, I quit it, because I knew I was called to be a missionary, and I did not think there would be banks for me to work in on the mission field where I was going. That was rather silly, because there are banks everywhere. But I felt that I should find a job working with my hands, following the example of the apostle Paul, who was a tentmaker, so that I could use those skills anywhere the Lord would have me go on the mission field. When I quit my job at the bank, one of the Vice Presidents was puzzled and asked why I wanted to quit. When I told him about my ministry, he asked if I was going to become a priest, because he didn't understand what it meant to be a missionary. It's rather funny now looking back on it.

From there I went on to work in a warehouse working for my brother-in-law first as a welder-fabricator of metal door frames and metal window frames. Later I was a shipper-receiver at the same place until the time came when I was eventually led by the Lord to use my Army College Fund to go to Bible School to prepare for ministry. And once I graduated from Bible School, the Lord led me to go on for further study to Regent University, which is where I met my wife. There I obtained a Master's degree in Missiology with a concentration in Church Planting. Amazingly, the Army College Fund did not run out until I was nearly completed my Master's degree. And when those funds were exhausted, the Lord provided a scholarship for the remainder of my degree, so the Lord provided fully. During my degree program, I also served Him on missions trips in Bulgaria and Ukraine.

After my wife and I married and I spent a decade in the corporate world, the last few years of which were as a project manager, the Lord led us to establish Doulos Missions International and go overseas to Eastern Europe as missionaries. We ended up serving as resident missionaries in Eastern Europe, based in and around Budapest, Hungary for four and a half years. I have had the pleasure of ministering in countries like Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Romania, as well as Hungary. I got to see the Lord do some amazing things in people's lives. Now that we are back in the States, I have the privilege of making disciples of people from many nations through our three-year Doulos Training School, which the Lord led me to establish.

So isn't it amazing how I didn't go to an ROTC University or a military academy, I didn't become a military officer, a pilot, a psychologist, or a computer scientist. Instead I ended up as a combat soldier in the US Army Infantry, of all places, where someone shared Jesus with me and my whole life changed radically. Once I came to know the Lord, then He Himself showed me what He had in store for my life, which was not what I thought it would be. How wonderful that instead of the Army College Fund being used for a secular degree in computer science, like I originally thought it would be before I knew the Lord, it ended up being used for a much greater purpose to train me for ministry. God's plans for my life were very different from mine, and much better than mine, too.

Isobel Kuhn
Let me share a brief story about Isobel Kuhn. She had always dreamed of being a university English teacher, so she went to the University of British Columbia and got her degree in English Language and Literature. Then she got a job teaching third grade students in a school. Since she was fresh out of college, she could not get a job teaching in high school like she would have liked. So she became bored and very dissatisfied with her career. At that time in the early twentieth century, there were only three careers for women -- nursing, teaching, and secretarial work. It was too late now for her to go back to school and get a different degree, so she felt stuck in a job she didn't like.

Then she had an opportunity to go to a teachers seminar in Seattle, Washington. As she was getting on a ferry, she received a message that her father had made arrangements for her to stay in the home of some people he knew there, Otis and Julia Whipple. She would have liked to send a telegram to her father to let him know that she preferred to find her own place to stay in Seattle, rather than with old, religious people, but she didn't have the time to do so. And when she arrived, she was met by the couple, whose home she stayed in while she was there. They were not old people like she had expected, but were middle aged.

After church on Easter Sunday, she met a friend she knew from college, who asked her how she liked her teaching career. She held back the tears as she told her friend that she was very unhappy in it. So her friend invited her to come to dinner at her home that evening. She was having a guest over for dinner, who was a phrenologist who could read people's skull and tell by the shape of it what their career should be. Isobel thought that would be great, but she already had a commitment to eat dinner with her hosts the Whipples that evening. However, her friend persuaded her to talk her way out of that commitment and come to her home to have her skull read, so she could find out what she should be doing with her life in the future.

When she got back home, she spoke to Julia Whipple and told her that she was unhappy in her teaching career. She asked her if she thought it would be alright, especially since it was Sunday, if she went to this friend's house for dinner to have the doctor read her skull and determine what would be the right career path for her. Her hostess said that she didn't think the day of the week mattered so much as what it was she intended to do. She told her that in her opinion, she would be better off asking God what His plans were for her life, rather than consulting some doctor who would examine the lumps and bumps on her head. Then she asked Isobel, "Don't you think so?"

As Isobel considered the question, she realized that in all her years of going to church and listening to preachers, nobody had ever told her that God had a specific plan for her life personally. This was a new concept for her that she had never heard of or considered, but which seemed like a much better approach than going to the phrenologist. So she decided to stay home and ask God for His will for her life instead. Julia handed her a Bible and said that the primary way God shows us His will is through the Bible. Isobel reached out and took the Bible that Julia handed to her and opened it. She impulsively let her fingers drop on a verse and then read the words, "Keep thee far from a false matter." (Ex 23:7, KJV). She felt that she already had her first confirmation not to go to the friend's house for dinner to see the phrenologist. And that was the beginning of how God began to lead her into His will, which was for her to eventually become a missionary to the Burmese Lisu people of China and later Thailand.

God's Plan for People in the Bible
There are many examples of people in the Bible, which we could cite to show God's plan for them. In fact, God had a plan for every character found in Scripture, but let's just look at a few of them.

Jeremiah wrote: "Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.' " (Jer 1:4-5). This proves that God has a plan for each of us even before we are formed in the womb -- before conception!

God's purpose for Abram, an old man whose wife was barren and beyond child-bearing age, was that he would become the father of nations (Gen 17:3-6). Don't think that you're too old for God to show you His purpose for your life.

Before Samson was conceived, an angel appeared to his mother who was barren, and told her that he would be born and become Israel's deliverer. (Judg 13:3-5, NIV).

Peter, Andrew, James, and John
Four men named Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen, but when they met Jesus He showed them that their purpose in life, if they would follow Him, was to become fishers of men. (Mat 4:18-22)

When they found Jesus, they found His purpose for their lives, which was much greater than catching fish there in their hometown in Galilee. The Lord was going to use them to preach the gospel, perform healing and miracles, cast out demons, lead many to Christ, and write books of the Bible. In fact, they are still impacting the world today, two thousand years later.

Saul of Tarsus
A man named Saul of Tarsus thought his job was to persecute Christians and force them to deny Christ. But one day when He met Jesus Christ, all that changed. He discovered that Jesus is Lord and that his purpose in life was to proclaim that message to the whole world -- to Gentiles, to Jews, and even before kings (Act 9:3-6, 15-16). 

The apostle Paul went on to preach the gospel throughout the world and experienced a lot of persecution for Christ. The Lord also inspired him to write half the books of the New Testament Bible. As with Peter, James, and John, his life is still impacting the world today, thousands of years later.

John the Baptist
Another great example is John the Baptist. An angel appeared to his father before he was conceived and told him that his barren wife would conceive and give birth to a son, who was destined to be the forerunner of Christ to prepare the way for Him in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luk 1:11-17).

King David
David was a shepherd boy tending the sheep, but God had plans for him to be His anointed one to slay the giant and lead the nation of Israel as their king. Once he discovered God's will, he embraced it and carried it out until his life was finished. "Now when David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed." (Ac 13:36, NIV). He served God's purpose in his own generation. What about you?

God's Plan for Your Life
My friend, has anyone ever told you that God has a plan for your life? It's true, He does. According to Sharon White in The Man Who Talked with Angels, which she wrote about her father, pastor Roland Buck, she stated: "God has had a plan for everyone from before the foundation of the world. God let my dad know that events which He has decreed have to happen! People are foreordained. God has included you in His great unfolding plan, but He will not violate your will. You can choose to experience the joy and excitement of being in partnership with Him."

Let me show you what the Bible says about God's plan for your life. David wrote:

"Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (Psa 139:16, NIV)

This means that before you were even born or the world was created, God had a plan for your life. He ordained your days and His purpose for you beforehand. That's right. God has an amazing and wonderful plan for your life. It all begins with you repenting and giving your life completely to Jesus, surrendering to Him as your Lord and Savior. Then He says, "Your purpose in life is Me in you." From that point on, your life is all about Him.

"And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." (2Co 5:15).

Now you must no longer live for yourself and for your own pleasure and for what you want to do with your life. You must live for Him who died for you and rose again on your behalf. If you seek to live for yourself, you will be miserable and never find fulfillment. But when you surrender everything completely to Him, you will discover His purpose in creating you, and it will be wonderful. It will be the most fulfilling life you can imagine. As the apostle Paul said,

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." (Eph 3:20, NIV).

His plans for you are greater than your wildest dreams. And He is able to do infinitely more than you can even imagine. His ways are much higher than yours, and His thoughts higher than yours. As He said through the prophet Isaiah:

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa 55:9)

The Lord has plans to give you a hope and a future, as He said through the prophet Jeremiah:

'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." (Jer 29:11)

Although you may plan your course, the Lord will determine your steps. As the proverb says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." (Prov 16:9, NIV78).

You were created to do good works that God prepared in advance for you to do. As the apostle Paul said:

"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Eph 2:10, NIV)

God gives you life and breath and determined the appointed time when you would live, as well as the exact location where you would live (Ac 17:26). He does this so that you will reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each of us (Ac 17:27). And when you find Him, He wants you to seek Him to discover His unique will for your life. 

Putting it All Together
There is a reason why you were born. Just as man creates things for a purpose, God made you for a specific purpose. You are on earth to serve God's purpose, not your own, in your generation. Why not discover what that purpose really is? Why not ask God what His will is for your life? I encourage you to do that today. If you have never done it before, then take time to ask God to show you His will for your life. The primary way He will do so is through His Word, the Bible, and by His Spirit. Let go of all the ideas and plans you have for your own life. Put it all on the altar and offer it up to Him. Be willing to do whatever He commands you to do and go wherever He commands you to go. Then He will be free to show you the exciting plans He has for you. And what an adventure it will be!

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.  Other Scriptures from the Holy Bible NIV, where noted. Story of Isobel Kuhn from Isobel Kuhn: On the Roof of the World by Geoff and Janet Benge.

Author's note I invite you to visit these related articles of mine: Walking in the Perfect Will of God, What is That in Your Hand?, Inquiring of the Lord, Hearing the Lord's Voice, Paradoxes of the Kingdom of GodThe Cost of DiscipleshipPleasing the Lord, God Chooses the Weak Things Is Obedience Optional?, Obedience by the Spirit, The Obedience of Faith, and Having a Servant's Heart.  You can access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.  I also recommend the booklet by brother Sadiq Ibraham, called Walking in God's Perfect Will.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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