“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans
for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future
and a hope,” Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
Do you remember when you were young and older people would come up to you and ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Isn’t it interesting what children say in response to that question? “I want to be a fireman”, or “I want to be a millionaire”, or “I want to be a teacher”. I always answered that question with “I don’t know!” And, I didn’t! I was 25 years old before I realized that I wanted to become a gospel preacher. That realization was not yet clear in my mind when I enrolled in the Sunset School of Preaching (Now Sunset International Bible Institute) in Lubbock, Texas. My primary goal in attending Sunset was to gain bible knowledge. The realization that I wanted to serve the Lord fulltime came later in my first year of study. For some of us it just isn’t easy to find the best plan for our lives.
Last week I began teaching a Sunday morning Bible class on the book of Ezekiel. As I prepared the lesson one thing became very clear to me. That is, God was going to change the direction of Ezekiel’s life drastically. God spoke to him he was 30 years old, Ezek 1:1, and a captive in the nation of Babylon. Scripture tells us he was a priest. If you know the Old Testament you will realize that 30 is the age when a Levite priest began his ministry. Levites would continue serving until the age of 50. Ezekiel didn’t know it but God had a different plan in mind for him.
Thus, for 30 years Ezekiel planned upon serving God as a faithful priest. It was a noble plan, a good plan, and a route taken by countless others who were descendants of Levi. However, God has a better plan for Ezekiel. He was to become a prophet of God. That was to be his calling. God appeared to him in a vision and charged the priest to become a prophet and the human author of the book of Ezekiel. He served as a prophet for least 23 years. That was not the direction Ezekiel envisioned for his life work. However, it was God’s plan.
When you read the first three chapters of his book you get the sense that Ezekiel was a bit overwhelmed when God gave him his new job description. Here is a sequence of events that are recorded in the first three chapters of Ezekiel:
- The word of the Lord came to him, 1:1-3. Through Scripture, the word of the Lord can also come to us.
- He beheld the glory of God in a vision, 1:4-27. In this vision he saw cherubim and above them he saw the Lord in His glory sitting upon a throne.
- Ezekiel fell on his face when he saw the glory of the Lord God, 1:28.
- He heard God saying, “Stand up, I will speak to you”, 2:1. The Spirit helped stand Ezekiel up.
- God then gave Ezekiel his job description, 2:2-7. He was to speak to a rebellious nation, living in exile, who for the most part would not listen to his faithful proclamation of God’s message.
- For the first part of his ministry the message was that Jerusalem would fall, chapters 3-24. The fall came to pass in 586 B.C. About six years into Ezekiel’s ministry.
- God supplied Ezekiel with his message on a scroll he was commanded to eat, 2:8-3:3. This sweet tasting scroll symbolized the inspired word of God that Ezekiel was to eat so that it would become part of who he was. He pronounced God’s message to the people.
- To help persuade him of the source of his new mission, Ezekiel heard a sound like an earthquake and the sound of a mighty voice. The hand of the Lord was strong upon him, 3:4-15.
After returning to the exiles in Tel-Abib on the Chebar Canal the prophet was completely overwhelmed for seven days. His life was taking a drastic turn from what he had imagined. God chose a better plan for Ezekiel: He was being appointed to be a prophet.
After the seven days were over God gave him his commission to be a watchman for the house of Israel, Ezek 3:16-21. It was time for Ezekiel to get up and get to work. God had given him a job to do. He was commanded to be a watchman with a charge to deliver God’s message to the wicked and to the righteous who had fallen from their righteousness. The message was so important that if the prophet failed to give them warning the people would be lost but their blood would be on Ezekiel’s hands. Once he accepted the Lord’s assignment his life was changed forever!
Can you think of others whose lives were drastically altered when God provided them with a better plan for their lives?
- How about Abraham? He was called to leave his home and family and wander in the area that became the Promised Land. God had a better plan for him and when he accepted God’s plan he was selected to be the one through Christ would be born.
- How about Moses? After fleeing from Egypt at the age of 40 he became a shepherd for yet another 40 years. At the age of 80 God called him to lead His people out of Egypt to the Promised Land. God had a better plan for Moses than shepherding sheep. Thus Moses became one of the most important people in the Old Testament.
- How about David? David was a shepherd boy called to be a king. God had a better plan for David than anything he could have imagined. His Son, Christ, would become king forever and ever.
- How about Saul of Tarsus? This godly man who was mistaken about the Messiah was a brilliant student of the word of God yet he had missed the most important message contained in scripture. That is: the coming of Christ and His gospel message. At first Saul persecuted the church. He thought that was his God given mission in life. That all changed when he saw the Lord on the road to Damascus. God had a better plan for Saul (Paul) and appointed him to be the apostle for the Gentiles. Was there ever a missionary as great as Paul? I don’t think so!
How about you? Have you found God’s plan for your life? We should not expect God to speak to us in a vision like he did to Ezekiel and others. Nor should we expect to hear a voice from heaven like Abraham and Moses. God speaks to us today through His holy word. For some it is relatively easy to discover God’s plan for their life. Consider the ease with which Samuel became a prophet and leader of his people. Others of us have a more difficult time finding His plan for our life. That plan might cause us to change everything we thought we would do with our life. Finding God’s plan for your life will definitely lead you to a better way of serving the Lord.
If you are struggling to find His plan for you own life, you might consider the following steps. You can begin by being faithful to Him in every possible way. When God says something in the Bible we believe it and if it is a command for us to do we obey it. You should pray for guidance and His leading in all of your prayers. You should Worship regularly, read and study your Bible faithfully, and look for opportunities to serve Him. When we diligently seek to follow the path God has laid out for our lives we will find it.
It might take more time for some than others but the path will be found. After all, Moses had wait for 80 years before God called him to lead the Israelite Nation out of Egypt. For others finding God’s plan might be easy. I think of men like Andrew, Peter, James and John as examples of people who discovered the path they should follow very quickly after meeting Jesus. Perhaps others are somewhere in between the examples we just considered. We should strive to be clay in the hands of a loving God. He will mold us into the servant He wants us to become. The truth is, if we do our dead level best to serve Him, He will direct us down the path He wants us to follow.
“Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
“Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me; after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still”