June 19, 2012

God's Plans for Your Life (Book of James)

In my last post on James I talked about practical atheism, where people believe in God but live their lives as though He does not exist. I discussed how one way this is done is through talking badly about other people and judging them.  This is also done through making plans for our lives on our own without taking into consideration God's plans.  Jeff Cavins said we must remember how short our lives are and seek God's guidance so we can make the most of the time we do have on this earth.   


"Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit'  You have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears.  Instead you should say, 'If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that.' " 
- James 4:13-15

The person in this verse is claiming to have control over their future.  While it is good to be wise in making plans, we have no idea what the future holds for us; only God does.  It is okay for us to make plans, but we need to go about it with the right attitude. If we have the attitude that we are in complete control of our future and our lives without consulting God, James says in 4:16 we "are boasting in arrogance.  All such boasting is evil."  It is arrogant to have the attitude of presumption about our future instead of submission to God's will.  I just love how James says "If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that."  What a great way to think about the future!  We really need to be open to the fact that God may have an radically different plan in store for us than our own.  

I think this holds true for even the small plans in life.  We might have plans to run out for a quick trip to the store but end up getting caught in a big line.  It's easy to get frustrated and annoyed, but maybe it would be helpful to consider what God's plans are for you in that moment.  Of the over 6 billion people in the world, perhaps he brought you and the person standing behind you in line together for a reason.  Maybe you are there to extend God's grace to that person.  It's definitely something to think about the next time something doesn't go your way, and I think re-framing the situation can help us to become much more humble (not to mention less stressed when things don't go our way). 

We know that God's plans for our lives are so, so, so good.  In fact, they are better than anything else we could ever plan ourselves.  Many of us really and truly want to live out the plans He has for us, but how exactly do we find out what those plans are (especially for major life decisions)?  That is such a hard question to answer, and it's something that I definitely struggle with.  How do I know that I am living the life that God wants me to live?  I think that more time spent in prayer can definitely help lead us to those answers.  One thing that I have found particularly helpful was a piece of advice my sorority adviser in college gave me.  She said that if she can't decide if an opportunity that opens up is part of God's plans for her, she prays for God to put obstacles in her way.  I have found that to be so very helpful in making decisions in my own life. 

I want to hear from anyone reading this! :) How do you know what Gods' plans are for your life?  Do you have any practical tips or steps to help people who are trying to determine what His plans are for their life?  Have you ever had a situation where you found that God's plans were so much better than your own? 

This blog post is based on the Bible Study James: Pearls for Wise Living by Jeff Cavins. Here are my previous posts based on this study:


Love,
Caitlin  

13 comments:

  1. This was exactly what I needed to hear today, especially about reframing the situation. I always pray that God will very obviously open and shut the doors in my life and to draw me closer to Him.

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    1. I'm so glad! I feel like I am one who needs really obvious signs.

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  2. I often struggle with knowing if something is God's plan or am I just seeing what I want to see. If that makes sense. Also, I struggle with whether I should pray for something I desire, or the ability to accept God's will lovingly.

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    1. I agree! I think that sometimes I talk myself into thinking something is God's plan because it's what I personally want.

      I have been thinking about the prayer thing a lot recently, especially after reading lots of different quotes in the Bible linked to the James study. Many quotes say if we pray and ask we shall receive *if it is in God's will.* That made me wonder if it was okay for me to even ask for something I desire, but I think I have decided it is okay, as long as I say I would like to have it if it's in God's plan for my life.

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  3. I sometimes have a hard time discerning God's will, especially when the choices are equally good. I've tried some Ignatian methods, which have been helpful, but I definitely plan to try your advisor's "praying for obstacles if it isn't His will" method.

    I've had MANY situations where God's will was different from my own and each turned out to be a blessing. Isn't there a country song that says, "some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers"? So true.

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    1. It gets so tricky when it's two equally good choices! Sometimes I wonder if there really is a best one to pick or if God is just giving us the opportunity to pick either one.

      And yes! Garth Brooks! I love that song, and it's so very true!

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  4. Great post! This has been so applicable to me in my relationship with Joey and his children. I pray a lot that His will be done no matter what the outcome or how I feel. I definitely find it hard to know for sure though! Here is a related quote that I love and always find comforting:
    "So much happens in life that takes us by surprise, stuff that redirects our course down a new path, events that unfold a story only God could have predestined. Yet a story blessed in large part by the hearts we cross paths with, that even for a moment we may get to see love, share love, and experience love in a completely different way than we once understood."

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    1. I can definitely see how that relates you your relationship with Him and His family. I love that quote! Thanks so much for sharing it with me. I am going to have to write that down.

      Congratulations again on your engagement! I hope you will be writing about it soon! :) I am so happy for you!

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  5. I think God's plans bring peace. When you have prayed, spoken with others, and thought about the implications of your decision in order to be wise, and feel peace, that is God telling you to go for it! Although sometimes it's not what you would have thought! And you can fight the peace, because it doesn't always seem to make sense or be what you want! But God knows what He is doing!

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    1. I absolutely agree! I feel so much peace when I figure out accept God's plans!

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  6. This is a wonderful post! Thank you for linking it to "Pay It Forward"! I love your comment, "I think re-framing the situation can help us to become much more humble (not to mention less stressed when things don't go our way)." We do tend to get bent out of shape when things don't go as "planned", don't we?

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  7. Hi. I came here from Pay It Forward. For me, God opens doors and makes things come together if He wants me to do something. If He doesn't, He has many ways to block me, most especially financial.

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  8. I don't think we ever really know His plans...."Today's worries are enough for today." Like you said...it's fine to plan things but we have to remain open to His will. Sometimes it doesn't make sense...but we only see a piece of the puzzle while He continually gazes on the completed work. Sometimes doors open or close unexpectedly, but there's always another door(or window) that opens up for us.
    Usually there's a peace in our hearts, despite the doubts in our minds, when we are following God's will....but those doubts can sometimes shout so loud that they are all we can hear!
    Michelle
    http://normalchaosforamultitaskmom.blogspot.com/2012/07/gift-of-life.html

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