I don’t think it’s an accident that the two women who chose the same promise for our summer series fell on back-to-back weeks. Today we get the chance to hear last week’s promise as it plays out in Libby’s story. I know you will be blessed.
By Libby Farmen
“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.” Jeremiah 29:11
I have this verse hanging on the wall in my dining room. I would bet it is a favorite verse for many Christians. However, this verse took on a much more powerful and personal meaning in my life a couple of years ago when God showed up in a big way and began the process of tearing down false idols and re-establishing his covenant with me.
In May of 2017, I became seriously ill with a failing thyroid. I was working fulltime in the consulting field in a leadership role managing several teams and traveling. I had just come in from being on the road and wasn’t feeling great physically but kept pushing through. Frankly, I was good at doing that—often at the expense of my health and my relationships. The day after Mother’s Day, I knew something was seriously wrong. After going to my doctor’s office and being told to go straight to the emergency room, I spent two weeks unable to get out of bed and feeling sicker than I had ever felt in my life. God used this event in my life to work in my heart so I might turn a keener ear to Him.
He told me He was trying to get my attention and had been for a while. And, as we walked that road of physical healing together, God began to show me the plan He had in store for me and a call that He had on my life. To be honest, those plans were pretty scary at first, such as it was time to leave my job—the only job I had known for the last 15 years. He was calling me into His service in new ways. I needed to examine and reprioritize some areas of my life and let go of some false idols. God and I wrestled together for several months around what this would look like, (and a lot of this is still unfolding two years later). But as I listened, I began to experience deep spiritual growth. In His ever-faithful way, He began to open and shut doors—to make changes in my life in only the way He could so that I could serve the call He placed before me.
So, what got me to this place in the first place, you may be thinking? Well, I think it was a lot of things, and I think many of us can struggle with this, but over time I had become busier and busier with my own goals and plans, so much so that I had not given God any room to move in my life. My prayer life had become more like, “God please help me to accomplish X, Y, and Z,” as opposed to “God, what are your plans for me?” My heart had started leaning too much toward what I wanted to accomplish as opposed to aligning my life to the greater mission of what God wanted to accomplish through me.
When we do this, when we ignore God or move forward in life without Him, we often face one of two outcomes:
- God will move forward without us. You see, He doesn’t need us in order to accomplish His plans. Do you think that if Esther would have refused to speak to the king that the Jews would have been annihilated? No, of course not. God would have still saved the Jews. But because Esther was faithful to God, she got to be part of something much bigger than herself. She got to play a role in God’s story and what a powerful story that was.
- God is wrecking us to save us. We see this many times throughout the Bible but perhaps the most vivid for me is Jonah. God didn’t need Jonah. There wasn’t anything special about Jonah. God could have called forth another prophet to go to Nineveh, but God wanted Jonah, and He brought Jonah to his knees in order to bring His plan for Jonah’s life to fruition.
I am so thankful that God brought me to my knees that summer of 2017, refusing to move on without me . . . refusing to be pushed aside . . . refusing to accomplish what He wanted in another way. He wanted me—all of me. And, I surrendered. Let’s not live our lives in such a way that we miss being part of God’s story. He will accomplish what He sets out to accomplish. What a privilege to even play a small role. Also, let’s not live our lives in such a way that we experience a Jonah moment. Let’s be women like Esther, even with pounding hearts and shaking knees. Let’s hold our heads high and go speak to the king.
Because God has plans for us. Plans to prosper us. Plans to give us hope and a future.