Terça, 16 de Julho de 2024
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When God has Different Plans

A north-American seminarian intended on serving God during his spring break and had being praying hard for that. He wished to have a blessed season at some local church. However, whilst his mates were being invited by lots of churches for vacation ministries, he was systematically being passed over. As spring break arrived, not grasping the reason why God did not answer his prayer, he got a job as a bus driver to pay the bills. His first taste was a gang hoping on without paying. After the bad guys did that for a few days in a row, the seminarian stopped in front of a cop and reported the case. The officer made them pay the ticket, but as soon as he got off, the gang attacked the seminarian and hurt him really bad.

The boy was baffled by the course his vacation was taking, not figuring out why God had not answered his prayers. After recovering, he registered a complaint at the precinct and the criminals were arrested. When facing the judge, the seminarian, hurt and upset up to that moment, remembered the love of Jesus for sinners and asked the judge to receive the punishment in the criminals’ place. The judge obviously did not do that, but allowed him to visit the gang in prison, and so he preached them the gospel. They believed in Jesus as their savior and the seminarian started a blessed ministry in that jail.

I remember this story when I somehow see human wishes succumb before God’s sovereign plans. This young man intended to serve the Lord amidst the challenges of a church, but God had a different plan for him.

There was another young man who went through something similar. Mark 5 says Jesus went to the region of the Gerasenes and found a boy possessed by demons. Jesus definitely freed him from that burden. Moved by that miracle, the young man wished to serve Jesus, following him wherever he went, so that “as Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him” (v.18). Imagine the amount of great things that Gerasene could have done. First thing, he would be one of those closest disciples to the Lord. He could also be a living witness, along side with Jesus, telling his story and presenting himself as an example of what Jesus could do and of who he really was. The boy, in joy and spirit, had the very best will to serve his redeemer.

Rather surprisingly, Jesus did not let the boy follow him in his journey. Even as he asked, the Bible text states “Jesus did not let him” (v.19). This must have been a shock to the young man not only for the denial itself, but probably because of the frustration of seeing his plans hindered. However, it was not about a denial coming from Jesus, but about relocating a servant to the purposes that the Lord had for him. Jesus, thus, said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (v.19). Jesus wanted the newly free man to engage in announcing his message not following his own plans, but the divine ones. His plans for the man were different.

Many people tend to get discouraged at this point. They think that if their plans have being overlooked, it means they do not have as much value as the other people they know. Or else, they feel hurt and are willing to do nothing else. Some even start jeopardizing other people’s job in a childish kind of vengeance, or in a dishonest intent of making a point that their plan was better. But none of this happened in the case of the young Gerasene. Instead, “the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and all the people were amazed”(v.20). That boy did not get hurt as he got “no” for an answer, nor he felt dimmed for not being part of Jesus’ closest group, nor even downhearted after finding out that his plan for himself and his service to God was not the best. He obeyed the Lord’s directives and, as it seems, did his best by making the difference to the point of amazing his listeners.

This must lead us to think of our own goals and of how God has tapped or not our plans.  No need to add anything else to identify the issue in our experience, I would like to leave some advice that will prevent you from fighting against divine plans:

1. Be Humble. Being humble will prevent you, in a proud mood, from thinking that your plans are always the best and from nurturing other sinful feelings such as envy, disillusion or anger.

2. Be available. It means to be ready at any time to be used by God in the most unexpected areas, maybe even unintended ones at first.

3. Take advantage on the opportunities. Once there are no (“real”) prophets for us to know the exact plans that the Lord has for us, to take opportunities that open up in front of us to serve God help fulfilling such goals, which will certainly unfold from then on, wherever it is.

4. Be obedient. God’s plans are not met when we disobey his Word, or his justice standards, order, holiness, witness, love, patience, perseverance and submission.

5. Be patient. God not only determined what we are going to do to him, but also “when” we are going to. In this sense, the Bible sets out examples of people who have being set apart for certain purposes, but who went through a long period in which God worked with and prepared them, just like Abraham, Moses, David and Paul. Patience, besides being a tool in God’s hand to lapidate character, prevents us from “breaking the door” of God’s plans instead of holding for it to open at the proper time.

6. Be content. It means that, regardless of God’s plans, or the timing he set for them, you are content with the current purpose of the Lord and with the fact that you have being redeemed by the faith in Christ. Christians that are content with their position at the divine purpose usually know well the meaning of the sentence “my grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12.9)

“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.” (Eph 5.17).

Pr. Thomas Tronco

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