My plans aren’t your plans,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my plans than your plans.
Just as the rain and the snow come down from the sky
and don’t return there without watering the earth,
making it conceive and yield plants
and providing seed to the sower and food to the eater,
so is my word that comes from my mouth;
it does not return to me empty.
Instead, it does what I want,
and accomplishes what I intend.
Some days, I have to tell you, I just wonder what God is thinking. How could “this” (whatever “this” is) be the plan for my life? It’s not the plan I would make, let me tell you. Then, well, I look at the lives of the people around me, my friends and family: seriously, God? And then I take a deep breath before looking at the state of the whole world. I wonder what sort of plan God could possibly be working on, and then I turn off the news and take another deep breath.
My plans aren’t your plans, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. Hmmm. Wouldn’t it be nice if God’s plans would suit themselves to yours and mine a little more? I mean, just think how much easier it would be if God would just do things our way. I’d spend a lot less time wondering what God wanted from me. Congregations wouldn’t have to wonder about their mission or purpose. If only we could see exactly what God plans!
But it’s not that easy.
Even different Christians don’t agree on what God’s plan might be! I got a “how to vote faithfully” guide last week in the mail, and, well, I faithfully disagree with some of that particular publisher’s conclusions. Then later in the week, another Christian asked me to pray for our country. I replied that I often do, but in my heart I know that person and I are praying for very different outcomes when we pray for our country.
So who does God listen to? Which of us is following God’s plan? How can people following the same God and reading the same Bible come to such different conclusions? What if I pray for something that isn’t in God’s plan? What if different Christians are praying for opposing outcomes?
I thought of the verses above. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my plans than your plans. Or, to put it another way: God is God. I am not. Human ideas of how things should be are never entirely in line with God’s, even though we try to listen to God and live our lives with faith and integrity. There’s always room for us to make mistakes, to misunderstand God, or to deliberately let our own sin get in the way of God’s plans.
But you know what? Even then, God is still God. I don’t know about you, but I find this reassuring. Even if I plan for things that are totally in opposition to God’s will, God is still going to act like God, not like me. Even if a billion Christians all agreed to pray for something, if it’s not consistent with God’s character, God’s not going to do it. God is God. We are not.
And, well, when it comes down to it, I trust God’s judgment and plans. It is reassuring to know that I can’t mess up God’s actions by praying for the wrong thing or investing in the wrong plan. Neither can you. We are not God.
So I don’t know everything God has planned. Sometimes that drives me up a wall. But I do know this: God’s plan includes that you and I and the people around us would get to hear this good news: no matter how much we’d done to work against God’s plans, to hurt ourselves or others, God’s promise is that we are forgiven through Jesus Christ. And just as God’s ways are different from ours, so is God’s word different. God’s word does what it says, “accomplishes what God wants.” Whatever questions I have about the specifics of God’s plan, I am certain that God will act like God. God loves you, forgives you, and keeps promises to you. This is most certainly true.
God, your ways and plans are different from mine. Sometimes that frustrates me. Other times it reassures me. Help me to trust what I know: that you are God and I am not. Amen.