Most people familiar with Scripture are familiar with the Jeremiah 29:11 translation that says, “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.” I recently read it in the New King James Version and it really stood out me like never before. It says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I don’t know about you, but I really love that translation. It is now my favorite. God’s thoughts toward me…that warms my heart.
In this present evil world, we must choose to believe and remember that God is in control, He is alive, and that He moves powerfully in the lives of those whose hearts are wholly devoted to Him. If we are not living wholly devoted to the Holy One who works ALL things for good, we will never be able to become all that He has intended for us to be. We may have temporary success and happiness, but it is meaningless and leaves us empty. I have learned that nothing good, truly good, comes from anything that is done apart from God. Yes, He wants us to enjoy this life, but not apart from Him. Not if it means that He is no longer number one priority in our life.
I am 52 years old and weeks away from receiving my AA in psychology. For the first time in my life, I am graduating with honors. I have been accepted at the university I applied for and I am set to transfer for the Fall 2018 semester to continue in my undergraduate work. The only thing that I can clearly see as to why I am doing this is because it is God-led. I would not be putting myself through this otherwise! There is no doubt that God is guiding because of the amazing opportunities that I have had to share about Him with specific people on campus in the secular world. Not to mention how everything is working out, every single class I have needed has become available for me while others students have not been able to get into the same classees. It took a while to realize that my returning to school is not for me at all. I thought it was at first, but God has made it clear that I am on a mission. I am blending in with students that are much younger than me, but it works because I do not look like I could be their mother…thank You, LORD for that! Not only am I learning some amazing things in psychology, I am learning to watch for those doors that only He can open, to speak the words that only He can give me, to the hearts that only He can prepare to have an encounter with. This desire He has placed on my heart makes all the hard stuff and tears worth it.
This journey has brought moments of confusion, pain, and tears. It has brought heartache and a few weak moments where I wanted to get drunk to forget about things for a bit. But just like Scripture says, “No temptation has overtaken me except what is common to mankind. And GOD IS FAITHFUL. He will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can bear…” Amen? Amen! I love His Word on my heart so I can see those escape routes and endure whatever the tempest throws my way.
Even so, I have many moments when I cry out to God, “Why in the world am I am doing this, Lord? I am old and tired”, but then I remember that I do not have to understand His perfect plan. It helps to remember so I can stay encouraged when I do not get an answer. I am learning more and more to trust Him. It is true that His grace is sufficient. People say it all the time, but I am learning to really live it. I am learning that His power is made perfect in my weakness. Besides, God has never given me a reason not to trust Him. I am learning that while I do my part, He is always doing His. I get to do my passion of ministry while I walk as a student and even though the degree in the world’s eyes does not seem like much, God will use it for His good purpose. I live in God’s economy and God’s Kingdom and He can move godly and ungodly hearts to make whatever He wants happen. It is an amazing way to live.
I will be honest, the dark valleys I walk through at times cause me to desire that the work that His Word says He will complete in me, will be completed very soon. Sometimes I do not want to stay here. But God always brings me back to my right mind and strengthens me to carry on. I have learned that it does not matter that I do not know exactly what God has in store for my life. Every once in a while, He blesses me with tiny glimpses. The ministry moments on campus have been incredible and I think He allows me to see Him touch a heart or two so I can stay encouraged. I realize just how blessed I am because most of the time, we do not get to see what He does with the seeds we sow for His Kingdom.
At the end of a fast-track class this semester, I had an opportunity to share that God became real in my life and I recently celebrated eight years of sobriety. Someone who had decided to stop believing in God and become an atheist in his late teens heard my story. At the end of his presentation, which was hours after mine, he said, “Deborah, your story really inspired me. Maybe what happened for you, will happen for me.” If that wasn’t God moving in his heart…WOW. I will never forget that day. THAT is why I am taking classes on campus.
When I am battling the thoughts to give up, I remember God’s Word. I remember He has a plan for my life. I remember He has thoughts toward me to give me a future and a hope—a future filled with hope! His thoughts are nothing like my thoughts. I remember that Jesus came to find the lost…ME! He gave me a chance to be saved. He brought me from death to life and I choose to live it for Him now no matter how challenging it is.
Thanks for listening. Whatever you are dealing with in life that has you wanting to give up, I pray that you will allow the Lord Jesus—the Spirit of the Living God to come into your heart and change it and fill it with love, hope, and peace. Will you let Him? You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. I am grateful that I did. I discovered that the hope of Jesus is worth living for and He is the One that keeps my heart beating and singing. He gives me the peace that I will never be able to understand. Peace in the midst of my troubled (broken) mind that keeps trying to convince me that my journey is meaningless. Peace in the midst of all the other lies that find their way in that want me to give up on the Hope of Jesus and die. I know that if I lose my hope, I will lose my life. So many lives that gave up hope are gone.
I can give up, or I can choose to keep hoping in Jesus anyway—to keep living in the habit of hope. I am choosing Hope. I am choosing life. I am receiving His Peace and I pray you will too.
I will end with more words that I am grateful for. They are words that Jesus spoke to His disciples before He ascended into heaven—His promise to each of us, “I am with you always…” incredibly comforting words for us to hold onto every single day.
Choose Jesus. Choose Hope. Choose Life. †