He Knows the Plans He Has For Us—Roadblocks and Pitfalls
God does indeed have a determined, thoughtful will and unique plan for each one of us.
It can be exhilarating to discover that plan, especially if we have spent years wandering aimlessly in the wilderness of merely existing. Sometimes this enthusiasm leads us to attempt to make our discovery the mission and goal of our life and force it to happen in our own ways, leaving God out of the process. It is here that our motives for acquiring the plan are revealed.
Sometimes we begin our search for our dream in life to gain a sense of significance or success. We all need and want to feel that our life has purpose and meaning. And we all want to be known and seen as unique, talented, or gifted. But if this becomes our goal, things can quickly unravel, and we might find our sense of purpose shipwrecked and fragmented, or we might even feel that we have missed the boat altogether and determine there really was no purpose.
Sarah is an excellent example of this. When promised a son, she lost patience in waiting for God's fulfillment of the plan and purpose. She arranges to have a child through her maidservant Hagar. This side step really did create quite a mess in the story. Even so, God still has a plan.
James reveals that when we ask for these things from God, and we don't receive them, it's because our motives aren't pure.
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
— John 4:3
There is so much more to lust than sensuality. Lusts are internal cravings of any kind that drives us to satisfy ourselves in ways that really don't satisfy. In fact, they leave us more hungry. We can lust for notoriety, fame, power, status, and the applause of man.
In his book "Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical feasts," Dr. Richard Booker writes about the problem of our priorities:
"Many believers never enter God's rest because they seek things from Jesus rather than Jesus Himself. They seek blessings rather than the one who blesses. Jesus doesn't give us blessings; He Himself is our blessing. He is all that we could ever need, want, or hope, for in His person."
So it is with our attempts to be satisfied through our accomplishments. When we seek the dream and what it can give us rather than God Himself. We are lost at sea.
We cannot seek a purpose as a way to convince ourselves or prove to others that our life has a valid purpose and meaning. This method is a common temptation when we have felt so little and useless for so long.
Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.
— Matthew 6:33
Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
— Luke 17:33
We must die to our fleshly reasons to become somebody through a dream or purpose.
Proper Focus is Everything
Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.
— Psalm 37:4
The above verses indicate that the focus that precedes our dreams is the Lord. When we delight ourselves in Him, then He will give us the desires of our heart, and He will make it happen. We so often wear ourselves out trying to make something happen because, a lot of the time, our esteem is depending upon it.
The main ingredient of any goal or vision is to please Him.
The above verse tells us that when we delight ourselves in Him, it is our natural desire to please Him in return, and it is then that He can position us to receive His passion and plan for us as our motives are purified.
The Goal of our dream is to glorify God and not ourselves. If this is not at the core of all our plans and dreams, things won't amount to much from an eternal perspective.
Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts (God's well thought out plans—machshavah) will be established.
— Proverbs 16:3
When we commit to Him, he will begin to establish our thoughts to the God-given plans and purposes He ordained for us since before the world began.
. . . who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.
— II Timothy 1:9
Our calling is "holy." Holy means to set apart for His plan alone. It is not to serve our private agendas.
The Joseph narrative showcases this principle. In the Hebrew word for plan "machshavah" pictograph, the letter "sheen" indicates that in a God-given dream, there includes the idea of tearing down and putting back together. We will see how the purifying of our motives many times requires tearing down and putting back together.
A Look at the Life of Joseph
Genesis 37-47 tells the story of young Joseph, who had a dream about sheaves of grain, and on another occasion, the sun, the moon, and stars bowing down to him. He tells his brothers about the dreams, and all of them understood that Joseph was implying that they would one day bow down to him according to the dreams.
I have often wondered why Joseph chose to tell his brothers about these dreams. I can't imagine that he didn't know that they already disliked him being the favored son.
It probably was a pretty exciting dream and a prospect for Joseph to be a ruler over his family. It possibly sounded important, noble, prestigious, and powerful. Who could keep that to themselves?
Shortly after this event, Jacob sent Joseph on a mission to go check up on his brothers. Could it be considered that maybe Joseph might have felt like this was the beginning of God's plan for him coming to pass? He was about to rule over his brothers, and checking up on them was just the beginning.
As we all know, things turned out quite contrary to the vision God had given him. Instead of ruling over them, his brothers threw him into a pit, and he was sold as a slave. A slave is the antithesis of a master or lord, which he thought himself to be.
For many years Joseph serves in jail and in the Egyptian palace, being wrongfully accused of things he didn't do and imprisoned for them. The Bible doesn't tell us if Joseph ever wondered about the dream and how that would happen when circumstances must have looked so contrary. How would he be a ruler over his family if he might not ever see them again? I think this is how we sometimes feel when life seems so contrary to God's plans, promises, and purposes.
The Turning Point
God eventually turns the ship around, and Joseph becomes what God had purposed him to be. Joseph may have initially embraced the dream as a way to feel good about himself or his life, but God had a higher purpose in mind, and that was the salvation of his brothers.
He came full circle. We all have to come full circle. God might use that place of weakness or stumbling to serve a more excellent plan, as Joseph discovered when he said
. . . God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
— Genesis 45:7
I believe his story's success has to do with how, in everything he suffered, he learned to put his focus on the Lord, and it was then that the deeper, more principal purpose becomes realized.
It is at this moment that Joseph discovers the real purpose of His dream. It's important to realize that our goal isn't about us. It's about God and the salvation of others.
God's plan and purpose in our lives will always be about the edification or salvation of others. That is His passion.
It's a grueling process for God to get us to that place sometimes, as seen through the life of Joseph. But Joseph clung to God through it all. During a moment of temptation, He chose to please God rather than Himself.
There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”
— Genesis 39:9
Joseph now has his priorities straight. His goal in life is to please God even if it meant he would go to prison for something he didn't do and suffer a consequence that may have made the fulfillment of his dream unlikely if not impossible.
Joseph had to be broken down and put back together before his purpose and ministry could be spiritually effective.
The whole painful experience in Egypt stripped Joseph of any impure motives he had. When all was said and done, Joseph ruled over his brothers as the dream depicted. But now he ruled in love, compassion, humility, and an understanding of the real purpose of that dream. The objective was that the twelve of them would be the beginning of a nation responsible for bringing the Savior into the world.
© 2011 Tamarajo