Just because our past has a story doesn’t prove there is a problem with God or His promise.
As I said in Part I, our experiences often cause us to alter our expectations. And when things aren’t going the way we think they should, it is easy to search for excuses. It is easy to search for a scapegoat. But an honest analysis may be more fruitful in leading us to the truth.
There’s a modern proverb I have used when analyzing or auditing my work, my finances or my goals. It’s a great statement to use in business or in relationships, but I think we can use it here:
My system is perfectly designed to get the results its getting.
In other words, the way I do things is perfectly designed to lead me where I am.
My system for cutting grass and my system for addressing the broken backdoors of my house were perfectly designed to give me the results I was getting. And if you’re not satisfied with the results of your life, if you and I look at our lives struggle to find fulfillment, we must be honest and admit:
It’s not God’s fault.
It’s not the fault of my circumstances.
It’s a systems issue.
The way you and I are living life is giving us the results we are seeing. And to obtain God’s promised life requires us to align ourselves with His system. The good thing is He is the kind of God who gives us possible steps to take so that His seemingly impossible promises can become reality.
So let’s look at three “how’s” to God’s promised life, and I’ll put them in the form of a personal question to help you and I apply them:
1. Am I Living with God’s purpose?
God promise has purpose, and that includes a unique purpose for you. He didn’t just give you his word. He has a reason behind it.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good works He planned for us long ago.”
God had something in mind for you to do, and then He created you to do it. He saw a need, a hole, a vacancy and designed you in order to fill it. God created you to make a difference in this world. And this is not only on the macro-level, but even on the everyday, micro-level. He has a reason behind your everyday work and your eternal work.
God had something in mind for you to do, and then He created you to do it.
One day in May of 1934, A man named Vernon Patterson took time out of his work day to attend a prayer meeting located in the barn of a local farmer. It wasn’t a big group; it wasn’t anything miraculous; but at that prayer meeting, Vernon prayed a prayer aloud and he asked God to raise up someone from that town to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
Vernon had no idea that on the other side of that barn, a teenage boy was listening in while doing his chores. It was 15-year-old Billy Graham, who did not yet believe in Jesus until just a few weeks later when he felt drawn to a local church service. Vernon had a chance to just live that day like it was any other, but instead he lived that day as if God had a purpose for it, and God used him to be a part of His bigger purpose and story.
Sometimes I live my Mondays and Tuesdays never even considering that God might have a greater purpose for them. I forget that the day He created carries intentions much larger than me achieving my career goals and getting through my to-do lists. God has planned good works for you and me today. And in those works, there is a full, rich and satisfying life.
And the good thing is, you and I don’t have to know our purpose in order to live like this life has a purpose. God knows it, and He knows how and when to show you. We don’t have to fully understand His purpose on the macro level, but we do have to pursue Him and pursue it.
2. Am I Living with God’s plan?
God’s promise has a purpose, but it also has a plan. The purpose is the destination, but the plan is how you get there. God not only knows your purpose, your why, but He knows the plan, the how.
As Christians, we often love quoting Jeremiah 29:11 while missing the whole emphasis of the verse: “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.”
Plan is repeated three times. The focus of this verse is not only that God knows the destination, but He knows the plan for how to get you there.
You may be like me: I usually love the destination or the purpose; I don’t always like the plan.
The Plan is hard.
The Plan is everyday.
The Plan is foundational work; it’s tedious.
The plan requires my trust; it requires me to surrender control of the results. It requires me to lay down my ways, my wants, and my rights, and swallow the truth that God’s ways are higher and greater than my own.
And God’s plan includes seasons. God’s promised life is not always about obtaining the accomplishments we desire. It is not always reaping and harvesting. There are also seasons of sowing, seasons of pruning, and even seasons of dying.
Jesus said, when speaking about the gospel, that one man sows and another one reaps. If that is the process and plan God uses for the most important work in all the world- the salvation of the human soul- doesn’t it reason that you and I are not outside that kind of process for our life transformation?
Sometimes we steal the fullness of life that God intends for us when we assume that every season of our life ought to be reaping.
Sometimes we steal the fullness of life that God intends for us when we assume that every season of our life ought to be reaping. Our misguided expectations can make us bitter, cynical and can even cause us to settle. It’s not that God’s promise isn’t real. It’s not that God’s purpose isn’t true. We just may not be following God’s plan to get there.
3. Am I Living with God’s people?
God’s promise of fulfillment is to a people, not just to you as an individual, and that’s because God’s promise is bigger than you or me. We won’t know the fullness of life God intended if we don’t learn to live with, and trust, God’s people.
When God designed you, He created you with deficiencies, with needs that you can’t meet on your own. In fact, this goes all the way back to creation. The goal for Adam and Eve was not that they learn to live fully independent of anyone or of God. It was the opposite: built into the design was the need for relationship. It wasn’t Adam’s idea to find a mate, it was God’s.
So even if I arrive at a full state of self-actualization, that doesn’t mean that I will live out my fullest potential. God wants to use all of us together to make a difference in this community and in this world. And there is a great promise of fulfillment when we do that.
Too many times I have heard people say something like, “I can trust God, but I just don’t trust His people.” That is impossible. God doesn’t save us, tell us to call Him Father, and then put us in His family so that we can learn how to not trust each other.
Sin introduces the pain and mistrust we experience in relationships, but the Savior introduces the healing and reconciliation that can happen in and through relationships. It is sin that moves us into isolation. And it is the Savior it moves us from isolation into family.
To be who God called us to be within this family, to really make a difference in this community, we must learn to trust.
BACK WHERE WE STARTED
God has always intended for you and me to live a fulfilled life. And in His amazing grace, God has given us all we need to obtain that life. God’s promise is an offer with a purpose, with a plan, and with a people. But you and I must learn to do one thing: trust.
Trust His purpose- that pursuing His Kingdom will lead us to discovering our ultimate design.
Trust His plan- that with God, there are no wasted days.
Trust His people- that you and I can only attain that fulfilled life if we learn to truly lean into God’s family.
Trust His system. In fact, I believe that the proportion of your life’s fulfillment is directly linked to your ability to trust, both God and God’s family.
So we are back where we started:
Are you willing to trust Jesus?
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Photo by Tim Mancari.