For I Know the Plans I Have For You

Posted: August 31st, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Other, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

I’ve begun a countdown. I even have a countdown app on my iPhone. Four hundred days from today, I will turn 50.

I don’t know about you, but 50 doesn’t sound young to me. Of course, it’s all a matter of perspective. If you’re 70, then 50 is young. If you’re 20, then 50 is ancient.

I have no expectation of living to 100 or even 90. My dad almost made it to 73. If that’s how long I have, then I’m well past the half-way point of my life. If my life is a football game, half-time is over and we’re playing in the 3rd quarter and I’m just six years from the 4th quarter.

Depending on your personality, you may be thinking all of this is a little morbid. Or you may be wondering who in the world actually thinks to countdown the days until they turn 50, especially when it’s still 400 days a way.

Here’s the thing–when I turned 30, I was disappointed. I had certain expectations that were unmet at that point. I expected my life to look different than it did. I figured by 30, I would “have my act together.” In hindsight, my expectations were the problem, not my life.

So when I turned 40, I had no such illusions of having a nice, orderly, problem-free life. There is no such thing. Turning 40 was no big deal. I guess the biggest thing I learned during the decade between turning 30 and 40 was how to extend grace. Even to myself.

So as I close in on 50, I don’t have expectations that life will be something it’s not, but I do have some expectations, of myself, that I believe are part of God’s plans for my life. There are some things I want to accomplish. There are character flaws I want to work on. There are people and activities I want to invest in.

I want to enjoy these next 400 days, but I also want to live purposefully. I want to have fun, while also walking obediently with God. In 400 days, I want to be able to look back and know I did life God’s way, not Gregg’s way.

What I’ve done is broken up the 400 days into 10 periods of 40 days each. Calendar wise, it might have been easier to just wait until the one-year mark and start counting down the months, but there’s something special about a 40-day period of time. (Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days. The spies explored the Promised Land for 40 days.)

Each 40 day period will give me an opportunity to emphasize something different depending on what I sense God doing in my life. Maybe prayer will be an emphasis during one of the 40 days. Maybe training for a 5k race will be. Or maybe studying the book of Ephesians. We’ll see.

In this first 40 day period, I’m emphasizing writing more consistently. I want to post here more often and I also have a book I’ve been working on…or not working on. I plan to finish it by October 9th, the end of the first 40 days. My goal is to write 1,500 words a day. Ambitious, but doable.

One emphasis that will run through all 400 days, and beyond, is simply obeying God–walking according to His ways. Jeremiah 29:10-14 says:

This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

The Israelites had been conquered by the Babylonians and carried into exile. They were no longer living in and enjoying the land God had promised to give them. They were captives in a foreign land.

Why though? What went so terribly wrong?

Israel had broken the covenant with God. He had given them His laws, but they chose to not follow them. God had graciously taught them how to live, but they stubbornly went their own way. Rather than give themselves wholeheartedly to God, they adopted the practices of the nations around them.

God had made it clear that if they would follow His commands, He would bless them and prosper them and protect them. But Israel rebelled against Him. They went their own way and did their own thing.

Maybe today it feels like you’re in exile. And you’re crying out for God to bring you back. You desperately want to experience His plans to prosper you and give you a hope and a future. Fortunately, He is always gracious toward us. When we cry out–He listens. When we seek Him–we find Him.

While you’re seeking and crying out though, maybe it’s also a good time to examine your life to see what caused “your exile” in the first place. Sometimes we get into bad situations because we live in a fallen, broken world. Bad stuff happens even when we’re trying to do the right things.

Sometimes though, our own disobedience leads us into exile. Our own choices got us to where we are. And while it’s good and right to cry out to God, it’s also time to make the changes we need to make. The surest path to experiencing God’s very best plans for our lives is to simply obey Him.

Is there an area of your life that needs examining? A relationship? Your finances? Something at work? What you watch or look at? How you use your time?

Remember, God’s commands are never meant to rob our joy or fun. It’s just the opposite. God’s commands provide for us and protect us. They keep us from danger. God’s ways are always for our good. Never for our harm.

You may not be 400 days from turning 50, but there’s nothing stopping you from using these next 40 days to intentionally walk according to God’s ways, so you position yourself to experience the plans He has for you.