• Rossendale Circuit

From The Garden Bench - Plans

Words by David Hollows


Plans


S-P-I-D-E

Does this mean anything to you?

No, an R has not been omitted to then create the word, Spider.

The letters stand for Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute. A process at one time used to assist learner drivers: scan the road, identify the hazards, predict what the hazards might do, decide how to respond then execute the plan, if required.

Planning – now that’s a different ball-game.

Do you plan? Perhaps on a daily basis, a week at a time, over a month or do you prefer to meander through life and take life as it comes? After all, there is that very famous phrase: ‘the best laid plans of mice and men.’

If Covid-19 and 2020 have taught us one thing then it is how easy it is for our plans to go out of the window and to throw our plans away. For example, in August a family booked to go on holiday to a certain European destination which was open for tourists at the time of booking. Prior to departure the country closed its borders owing to an increase in transmission so the family had time to rebook for another European destination.


With days to go this second destination was added to the red list of UK countries and the family had to rebook, this time for Croatia. The date of departure arrived, the family flew to their destination in Croatia and within 48 hours the family had to leave in order to return to the UK within the time deadline to avoid 14 days of quarantine. Is there a lesson in life to be learned here?

No matter how detailed and clearly mapped out our plans can be, especially with careers, we can so often miss out on the surprises which life sometimes throws at us because the outcome is the focus of our plan rather than the life journey itself.

The Bible reveals to us God’s plan.

Photo by Estée Janssens

Some argue that God has no plan because He did not anticipate that Adam and Eve would ruin God’s aim of creation. Was He surprised when He met the pair hiding in shame or was this expected? There are groups within the Christian Church which argue that there is no such thing as a Divine Plan or Providence and there are those who counter this idea and believe that everything is ordered by God’s plan for His world and His people Some argue that God has had to change His plans in order to adapt to the events here on earth. For example: Plan A is the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve which had to change for obvious reasons. Plan B is when Moses led the people out of slavery in Egypt and Plan C when God returned the Israelites from exile owing to their disobedience. Plan D was John the Baptist and the offer of repentance and a return to God and Plan E was the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. What is your response to this theory?

Others argue that God does have a master Plan but that we are merely pawns as on a chess board of life whereas others maintain that we are partners with God. What are your thoughts about this? In the Bible there are characters who have no plans at all other than to live their lives in their own way. Gideon certainly had no plan to become a mighty warrior to defeat an army (Judges chapter 6) Mary and Joseph had no plan to have a major scandal in their relationship nor Elizabeth and Zechariah to have a child (Luke chapter 1) The Bible records for us not only the changes which are made to the plans some people have but also their responses. Jonah learns the hard way that his plan is not in line with the plan God has. Paul has a plan to go to a certain country until God determines that he goes to another (Acts chapter 16) Ruth has a plan to cope with her widowhood until Ruth changes this for her (Ruth chapter 1).

From start to finish the Bible records for us the plan of salvation God has for those who choose a relationship with Him either through the Law of the Old Testament days or through the acceptance of eternal life offered by Jesus on the cross. Throughout the Bible we read of the lengths God will go to in order to maintain His relationship with His people: Noah and the ark (Genesis chapter 6)those involved in the early Church in the book of Acts as the Good News of salvation is taken to countries and peoples in the known world. When the Israelites were wandering around the desert after liberation from Egypt God gave the plan for a tent temple where His people would recognise His presence (Exodus chapters chapter 25 and 26) Later, there were the plans for the magnificent temple in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles chapter 28) In Hebrews chapter 11 we read of many of the characters who were part of God’s Plan including Jeremiah who recorded these wonderful words;

‘For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

(Jeremiah chapter 29 verse 11)

Bible stories including Joshua, Esther, Peter, Dorca and many more all resonate with God’s plan. In Philippians chapter 2 Paul explains to us the plan God had for Jesus, His Son who left eternity to live with us to show us how to live God’s way and to accept the grace of God through the sacrifice of Jesus. In John’s Gospel, Jesus explains the gift of the Holy Spirit who comes to help and guide us as we live in God’s plan for our lives (John chapter 16).


Photo by Anastasia Petrova via Unsplash

So, where are your thoughts in all of this?

If you are a believer, are your life plans linked to the plan God has for your life? Do you believe that God has a plan for your life or are you just doing your own thing? If you are not a believer, could you ever believe that the Creator of the Universe could possibly ever have a plan to include you in His eternity and love? Is it time to have a think?


You may find the following hymn useful:

Father I place into your hands (Mission Praise 133)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBfRNrvvUfc


You may find the following prayers helpful:

Passionate God, our hearts are stirred to life so that our whole being feels like dancing and singing, for you are our God and we are your people. Passionate God, intimately involved with the world, in Jesus Christ your Son, our Saviour: grace-giver, joy-completer, life-fulfiller, we would faithfully follow and live our lives with you and for you. Passionate God, firing us still with the flames of your Spirit, we commit ourselves with passion to the cause of your Kingdom, for the love of Christ in whose name we pray.


Amen


Holy Spirit of God, guide us, for we would follow Jesus. Open our minds and hearts to His truth, enliven our imagination to his presence, excite our emotion to His offered love, increase our gratitude for His living, dying and rising. Strengthen us in our commitment that we may walk in step with Him, our Lord and Saviour.


Amen


Photo by Aleks Marinkovic vbis Unsplash


God bless you


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