Pastors Corner


“God has a plan.” I’ve said those words often in my life during times of transition. Especially this time of year. The school year is ending and young people around me seem to have their eyes set on what is next. Kindergarteners are looking forward to being big elementary schoolers, 5th graders will be middle schoolers, middle schoolers will finally be in high school, and high schoolers will graduate. God has a plan, right?

But experience tells me our understanding of that promise might be a bit too linear for how God’s people actually move into their futures. The word “plan” smuggles too much linearity to be true to real life experience. The word “plan” implies some sort of pre-determine, deep-cut wheel ruts carved into the road ahead that will hold us in place so we never jolt or skip in odd directions. The Bible does promise us that God makes plans for His people (Jeremiah 29), but those plans are hardly ever linear. The Jewish people received God’s promise that he had a plan to lead them out of exile back to the Holy Land after 587 BC. However, after receiving that promise it took the Israelites 70 years before they actually set foot in Israel again. In the meantime, God told them to settle down, marry, and make a life in exile. Staying put was also part of God’s “plan.” That’s not very linear.

Once the Jewish people left exile and returned to Israel, they returned in fits and starts. First a contingent came with Ezra, and they tried to build the temple. Then infighting started and their building project got delayed, but eventually they finished. Then another contingent came with Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem. Again, infighting started and their building project got delayed, but eventually they finished. Along the way they had to relearn what it meant to be people of the Holy Land; how to follow God’s laws again, how to worship as a community again, how to live as a community centered both in Israel AND in Babylon. Part of God’s plan was that certain contingents of the Jewish nation never returned to Israel. To this day Jewish people are scattered across the globe. Yes, Israel is one home of the Jewish people, but you’ll also find large Jewish communities in New York, Poland, Germany, and many other nations around the globe. In the end, God’s plan involved multiple futures and directions for multiple contingents of God’s people. Again, that’s not very linear.

Taking all that into account, I wonder if it’s more biblically accurate to say, “God has a compass.” God has us going somewhere, to be sure, but we shouldn’t get too attached to where. In the transitions we have ahead some of us will struggle, and some of us will have smooth sailing. Some of us will wind up in the places we intended to go, some of us will wind up in places we never intended, and some of us will stay put longer than we ever wanted. Some of us will build, some of us will destroy. For some of us there will be in-fighting, for some of us, reconciliation. God’s compass really tells us that once we are His people we are never NOT His people, and he will never stop leading us somewhere. God never considered rebuilding Jerusalem with a different people. He rebuilt it with the Jewish people. They were His. That’s the compass.

Once you’re named and claimed “people of God,” God never removes that claim. Wherever our young people go in their transitions they are God’s people. In whatever destination they find themselves, God will be there working out even more intricacies of his never-linear, always tangled, topsy-turvy plan. He will for you too. On this side of the Cross, none of us as ever arrives at the end of God’s plan, but that’s why it’s best seen as a compass. A compass follows a direction, it’s never attached to a destination.

Once the people of God, always the people of God. Wherever God is leading you, here’s His plan: He is making you His own. Let’s enjoy the journey.