The gift arrived without fanfare: a homemade T-shirt, a children’s Bible, and a small card. On the T-shirt, handwritten in bright fabric paint, were the six letters of my seven-year-old daughter’s name. On the card, handwritten in the script of her Sunday school teacher, was the Scripture reference Jeremiah 29:11. Then these simple words: “God has a plan for you!”
Without hesitation, my girl reached for her new Bible to discover the secret of Jeremiah 29:11. I helped her find book, chapter, and verse, and then together we read the words of the prophet Jeremiah.
“‘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.’”
My little girl’s face lit up with a smile like the sun. The God of the universe had great plans for her life! Even at seven years old, she relished the thought of His personal attention and care. My daughter accepted the truth of Jeremiah’s words without an ounce of skepticism. She believed it to be true as much as she believed the sun would shine.
It wasn’t so easy for me.
I still believed in God’s goodness. I still believed in His love. But too many years of hardship had left me less than confident about His plans. Life hadn’t turned out quite like I’d hoped. How was Jeremiah going to explain that?
Sometimes life can feel a bit like walking through a minefield. Every day, we scan our circumstances, trying to make all the right decisions. We fear that one wrong move could cause the plan to unravel. So we tiptoe, cautious and afraid, agonizing over every move as if the future hinges on us.
- Should I buy a new house? Move to a new area?
- Is the guy I’m dating the one?
- Am I getting enough sleep? Too much sleep?
- Where should my kids go to school? Or should I homeschool?
- Which church is the right church for me?
- Am I being too hard on my children? Too soft?
- Should I quit my job, stay home, and focus on my family?
- Should I get another job so I can pay off my debt?
The questions and unknowns twist and turn like an impossible maze. We do our best, no doubt about it. But the decisions and potential consequences never end, shaking us awake at night. If only God could overnight us a daily, detailed, step-by-step guide to knowing exactly what to do and when to do it.
Besides, where do we draw the line between submission to God’s leadership and taking responsibility for our choices and actions? Personal responsibility is a noble quality. It’s a good thing to make wise decisions and carefully weigh our steps. So how does this mesh with letting God lead?
Here’s the deal: We don’t have to have it all figured out.
In Isaiah 48:17, God’s reassures us of His leadership: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”
In other words, we don’t need to panic or worry or stay awake staring at the ceiling night after night. Why?
Because the pressure is on Him, not you and me.
As Jeremiah prayed, we can pray: “Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps” (Jer. 10:23).
If you and I determine to make our own way in this world to the absolute exclusion of God, then we have every reason to lose sleep. But if we keep our eyes focused on the one who holds the map and knows the way, if we ask for His leadership and search His Word for direction, we can trust He’ll guide our steps.
For I know the plans I have for you, He says.
And His plans, even if different from our own, are always good.Insecure about the direction you're headed? Encouragement from @MicheleCushatt at #theopendoorsisterhood Click To Tweet
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These words pulled from the pages of Michele’s most recent book—I Am: A 60-day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is—were penned during her long and grueling recovery from a third diagnosis of tongue cancer, during which she was permanently altered physically, emotionally and spiritually. In it, she speaks with raw honesty and hard-earned insight about our current identity epidemic and the reason why our best self-help and self-esteem tools aren’t enough to heal our deepest wounds.
Michele and her husband, Troy, live in the mountains of Colorado with their six children, ages 9 to 24. She enjoys a good novel, a long walk, and a kitchen table filled with people. Learn more about Michele @ michelecushatt.com.
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Giveaway opportunity! Michele and her publisher have generously offered our sisterhood readers the chance to win a copy of her book, I Am, bundled with Scripture cards. See the items here and enter to win here or below. U.S. residents only, please.
About the book: From the moment a woman wakes until she falls, exhausted, on her pillow, one question plagues her at every turn:
Am I enough?
The pressure to do more, be more has never been more intense. Online marketing. Self-help books. Movies, magazines and gym memberships. Even church attendance and social media streams have become a means of comparing ourselves to impossible standards. Am I pretty enough? Hip enough? Spiritual enough?
We fear the answer is “No.”
When a brutal bout with cancer changed how she looked, talked, and lived, Michele Cushatt embarked on a soul-deep journey to rediscover herself. The typical self-esteem strategies and positivity plans weren’t enough. Instead, she needed a new foundation, one that wouldn’t prove flimsy when faced with the onslaught of day-to-day life.
I Am reminds us that our value isn’t found in our talents, achievements, relationships, or appearance. It is instead found in a God who chose us, sent us, and promised to be with us—forever.