Sometimes, it can be a source of comfort, in those moments where life seems to be falling apart and you just want some assurance that there is a rhyme and reason to it all. But when this phrase is used in times of tragedy, it can send a mixed message. First of all, as Christians who believe in an all loving God, we would not want to send a message that God is intentionally causing crisis. Secondly, what human can accurately say what God's plan is for an individual?
When I think about what it means to have a plan, I picture an organized outline of what is anticipated to happen based on a set of predictable circumstances. But if there is one thing I have learned about life, is that it is not predictable. My children have further enforced the reality that having a plan on a day to day basis is virtually impossible! Sometimes, I even find that my plans for the day get sidetracked to reveal God's presence much more than I would have been able to see otherwise.
So what does it mean that God has a plan?
For me, I understand this as a general plan for the kingdom of God, not a predicted series of events for an individual life. God's "plan" involves the new heaven and the new earth we hear about in Revelation 21, where there will be no more crying, no more death, and no more destruction. God's plan is the kingdom of God as reflected in Jesus' parables which will grow from the smallest of mustard seeds (Mark 4:31). God's kingdom will be filled with those who are poor, who mourn, who are hungry (Luke 6:20-23). And this kingdom of God will be not come with things that are observed, for it is among us (Luke 17:21).
But here's the best part of what I understand God's plan to be - good. If an all loving God, who created the world to be good, and has been in covenant relationship with us since the beginning of time is still active, then whatever this plan is will be good.
Why do I believe this?
Case in point is this past week. Our church van was stolen last week, just one day before we would need it on an everyday basis to transport children from Cigarroa elementary to our church for the new Project Transformation after school program. In reality, the timing could not have been worse. If we had believed it was part of God's plan that the van had been stolen, we might have just given up. We might have just thrown in the towel on the possibility of an after school program, because there were too many difficult hurdles to overcome to continue our support of this ministry for the remainder of the school year. But we believed that God's plan wasn't for the van to be stolen. This wasn't willed against us. God's plan is and will always be for justice, mercy and love. We believe it is God's desire that these children have this opportunity to experience Christian support through this program. The result of this belief is that people have started coming out of nowhere to support us. Because of God's goodness, blessings abound.
In just one week, we have raised $3,000 toward a new van, ranging in donations from Austin to Roanoke Virginia! Christ Foundry continues to let us use their van as an interim solution. On Monday, Christ Foundry staff misplaced the van keys so one of our staff, Rick Hill, used his own car to shuttle kid back and forth. Fox 4 offered a great news report which has generated enthusiasm from the community about our church. We have lots of people signed up to be mentors and readers every day of the week. Even the parents of Cigarroa elementary are rallying with their own fundraiser for us, and we are seeing support from our Creative School families as well. Church members are calling with connections to potential good options of vans for purchase possibilities. The church and neighborhood has rallied. So no matter what, God's plan of justice in providing opportunities for education, and God's plan of wholeness to ensure these children have the great character building possibilities of this program, and God's plan of love to make sure each of these children has a mentor, is revealed.
My guess is that if you look hard enough, you will see God's "plan" at work in lots of places.
Let's trust God's plan together,