When I was in college, I came to the realization that I really only believed that God was good if I got the good things I wanted. Namely – to get married and have kids. Pretty simple. It was the Jeremiah 29:11 “good plan” I assigned to myself from God. But this good plan of mine became an obsession, a mental idol as I held out for a life that I believed would be the only way to have purpose and joy.
Looking back, I can see how it enslaved me: I thought about this desire all the time and was constantly on the lookout for cute boys who might be “the one”. I let it trap me in a bad relationship, and I barely made it out. What if this is my only opportunity towards marriage and kids? Not getting to live that life was one of my biggest fears, and leaving the relationship put me face to face with it.
What if I don’t get the good thing that I want?
I was quite humbled when I realized the box I had shut God into. I began to rewire my thinking by writing out scenarios: God is good if I get married. God is good if I don’t get married. God is good if I have kids. God is good if I don’t have kids.
God is good. His plans are good.
Especially now that I have more context to the book of Jeremiah, I can see God’s real plan for his people. It wasn’t about prospering in this world, and it definitely wasn’t about his people assigning themselves the good things they wanted. It was about being restored back to him.
… I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. – Jeremiah 24:6-7
Like the people of Judah had been disobedient, so had I slipped into a season of disobedience, of doing life my own way, of trying so hard to squeeze my plans into God’s plans. And I was trapped in it. But the eyes of the Lord were watching over me. And he built me up as I was reminded about truths, about his character. It was a season that God used to plant me within himself, a season where He grew my heart to know him. He is the Lord. I am his, and he is my God. I have returned to him with all my heart.
All along, he was the only One who could ever fully satisfy, the only One who could give me the purpose and joy I was searching for. So even if (when…) I don’t get the things from God that I want, I can still be satisfied, I can still be filled with purpose and joy because God has given himself to me. He has given himself to us all, should we choose to receive him.
In time, God did bless me with a marriage and children. And while I love my family more than I could ever describe, our life is certainly not a blissful fantasy of perfect dynamic. My husband and I have arguments, and my kids extract from me some of the most ridiculous commands and warnings that I never imagined I’d need to say. But it’s okay. We don’t sink when we have troubles, because the Lord is our foundation. He is sure when our circumstances are not. He is sufficient when everything else disappoints. Life continues to be a journey, and I need the Lord now as much as ever. And He continues to be good, always, no conditions attached.
This is what God the Lord says – he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it; “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open the eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
“I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” – Isaiah 42:5-9
Reflect: What is driving you?
What is that thing that you think about all the time? What are you obsessing over?
Are you constantly checking the news? Your phone? Emails? Social media? Obsessing over numbers – a scale, daily steps, calories, bank account, sales?
Can you see how it is holding you captive?
Can you see how it might be interfering with your relationship with God?