Lent Day 23: God’s Plans Are Better Than Ours
4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.
When I went off to college, I had plans to be a business major, but once I got to school I realized math was not one of my strengths, and so I had to make a mid-course correction. Many of us start out with grand plans in life, and many of them are good plans, but God always has the best plans for our lives.
Proverbs 16:9 (NASB 1995)
9 The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.
As believers we are called to walk by faith and not by sight. We are called to walk into the future given to us by God. The Lenten season is a time to reset and see what future God has for us. While Lent is a time of repentance and reflection, it is also a time to look forward and not look back. “Lent is rather seeing how to take steps into God’s future so that we are no longer defined by what is past and no longer distracted by what we have treasured or feared about the present.”
Philippians 3:12-14 (NASB 1995)
12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Just like Abraham, it is time to believe in the baby that was given at an old age. A time for resurrection at Easter and the new life that is before us that seemingly came from nothing.
Psalms 92:10-15 (NASB 1995)
“But You have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox; I have been anointed with fresh oil. 11 And my eye has looked exultantly upon my foes, My ears hear of the evildoers who rise up against me. 12 The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 Planted in the house of the Lord, They will flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green, 15 To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”
But you will not find this future in the world of doubt and disbelief. Where truth has become relative, where fake news is believed as real news.
Brueggemann gives us a few ways to see verifications of God’s future promises kept, “in ones who live out their trust in ways that the world terms foolish:
“In a church ready to be venturesome into God’s future; in a church that pays attention to those disqualified by the capitalist system; in the acceptance of those who are unacceptable; in the commitment of time to neighbors when we prefer to have that time for ourselves; in the telling of hard truth about the world, and that in a culture of denial; in the slant toward justice and peacemaking in a world that loves violence and exploitation to much; in footing the bill for neighborliness and mercy when we have many other bills to pay; in lives that give testimony before the authorities who want to silence and intimidate and render others irrelevant.”
As we can see from Abraham and Sarah, a bountiful life can come from a barren place.
And a nation was born in what was once barren. New life is possible in what seems like a place of death and discouragement.
So, in this Lenten season let us move beyond our past and even the predictable present to the new future of “God-given prospects.”
“God, you are the one who gives us a future, who shatters our categories with extravagant generosity. Make us ready to receive this Lenten season. Amen.” Brueggemann
Brueggemann, Walter. A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent. Kentucky: Westminster John Know Press, 2017.