“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.” –Jeremiah 29:11
Have you ever looked back on your life and seen the good come from tough times? Even if you didn’t know how tough they actually were? As I have grown out of my younger years, I have seen and felt this verse, Jeremiah 29:11, to be some of the most true and comforting words. I can say that because as I reflect back on how the Lord has worked in my life, I know there has always been a plan. There has always been a purpose even in tough times.
I was blessed to grow up in the household that I did. I come from a long line of strong Christ-centered households. Households that prayed before meals, before bedtime, in good times and bad times. Households that went to church together, served together, and grew together. But, even though I was fully surrounded and poured into, I still had growth to do in my own personal walk with God.
Wednesday nights became a favorite night of the week because that meant Youth Group was happening. I was blessed to grow up in a church in Lexington, SC. A church with a family focus and where pouring into children was seen as essential. Everything from leadership, games, friends, and trips, were, in my opinion, THE BEST. Starting in middle school, I loved being there. I loved growing there. I was challenged to grow in my faith. I was taught lessons about spreading the gospel, reaching the lost, serving others, you name it. It was through those experiences that I decided to ask Jesus into my heart. To repent of my sins. To be saved.
As late high school started, even as fun and exciting my church life was, other areas of my life became just as ‘fun’. Areas that involved making decisions that did not reflect the life of someone who followed Christ. Someone who had a growing relationship with him. My priorities shifted. If you would have asked me then if I was happy at that time, my answer probably would have been yes. Looking back now, I know that was going down the wrong path. I know that path would have taken me far from Jesus.
BUT GOD. God’s plan was bigger for me. God had more of a purpose for me. God had more blessings to come. College was a game changer. College brought me a community of girls that were strong in their faith. College brought reminders of God’s faithfulness. College brought restoration and growth in my relationship with him. I was reminded that living a life for Christ is ongoing. It takes work. It takes investing. But man is it worth it! The reward is so big! Complete salvation. Free from all the pains of this world.
God is not done with me. He is still teaching me, growing me, and working in my life. God is still placing people and opportunities in my life to show me He has a plan. He is constantly bringing me to the foot of the cross as a reminder that the work has been done and I am forgiven. I just have to trust Him.
If this is true for me, then it is true for you too. I encourage you today to reflect back on your life. Think of the tough times, was there any good that came from it? That’s the Lord at work in your life. That’s His reminder to you that you are loved and He has a plan for your life. That plan ends with you being back with Him.