"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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (NIV)
"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me." (NLT)I think all to often I have looked at Jeremiah 29:11 for comfort and have taken it for granted. But just because God knows the good plans that He has for me doesn't necessarily mean that no matter what I do and how I act, that my future will be amazing and glorious if I call myself a Christian. God definitely presents a promise to claim: that He will listen to us and provide us with all the hope and prosperity we need. God also, however, delivers a command to obey. We must seek him with all of our hearts.
As nerdy as this sounds, I first began to understand this in my Anatomy & Physiology II class when my professor was briefly discussing immunology. Our immune system is amazing. Really, it is. Basically, the immune system hinges on the concept of recognizing self vs. non-self. The immune system must be able to recognize what is not you, so that it can attack it (if necessary) and your body's health can prosper. It also must be able to recognize what IS you, so that it does not harm you. Your immune system equips you with the capability to destroy/prevent anything that can potentially cause you harm. Theoretically, everyone has the potential to live amazing and healthy lives without ever getting sick. Those are the "plans" the immune system has for you. But we do get sick. Everyone gets sick. The problem is, the immune system can only do so much for us; we have to do the rest. We have to take care of ourselves and be responsible. If we get sick because we're not taking care of ourselves and getting the vitamins/nourishment we need, can we really blame our immune system? This may sound dumb, but there is a point.
The truth is, we can't. No matter how sick we are, the immune system is doing everything it can, and, technically, the mechanisms by which it works are still near perfect. The way we do our part to help it is where the imperfection lies. Now granted, there are some genetics involved here, and some people are more susceptible to certain conditions. Not everyone gets sick because they don't take care of their bodies. But anyway, I'm digressing way too much.
The point is that, yes, God has amazing, wonderful, perfect plans for us. But He's not just going to poof them into our lives. We have to keep our relationship with Him healthy and alive, and take care of His sheep. We have to seek him with our whole heart, and find him. And by finding Him, we find the plans he has for us and it becomes second nature to follow them. His plans are still there no matter what, and they are still perfect no matter what, and they are still ours to claim no matter what.
Its up to us to fall on our knees, give up all we have, follow Him, and take hold of the amazing purpose and meaning He has for our lives.
P.S. The LORD is sending me to Mexico this summer as a medical missionary. He is so good. More on that later. =]