Jeremiah 29:11-13: “‘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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'”

Whether we want to establish a career or solve an ongoing problem – it’s great to come up with a plan. In a perfect world we tackle the issue and move right along without any further issues. In the real world we know that there’s this wildcard “life”. Life tends to happen with or without our consent and may overthrow all our neat plans. Expressing this sentiment in his song “Beautiful Boy”, John Lennon famously quoted Allen Saunder’s Reader’s Digest entry:

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans”.

Yes, life happens! It can be exhilarating, frustrating, or downright devastating, and we all have to deal with it. From time to time we may stop in our tracks and wonder: where is God in all of this?

The surprising news is, despite life’s randomness, God actually has come up with a plan for our lives. His hand in things is usually hard to detect. God happens to be subtle as a rule with exceptions of course. Angel visits for instance are not subtle, but let’s face it: a visual one-on-one with an angel does not occur on a regular basis.

God has written out a plan for each and every person, simply because He cares. Why? – you may wonder. Well, He handcrafted us. Why wouldn’t He? And the very fact that God has a plan for our lives strikes me as special. He wouldn’t have a plan, unless He was genuinely interested, somehow involved and actively engaged in our lives. God passionately pursues His creation. He has a vested interest in you and me. That’s just who He is.

Nobody but God knows us as deeply as He, which is why He is able to recognize everything that’s inside of us. So when He pulls out a plan, it’s usually something we could not have come up with in our wildest dreams. God thinks big. Naturally, His plans for you and me are God-sized.

God has plans of hope, plans that help us grow and bring us into a better tomorrow, plans that discover and develop our talent, plans that are custom-sized and tailored to our person. It’s something that fits us like a glove, something that we’re meant to be. Call it our contribution to humanity; call it our purpose; but whatever it is God has in store for us is something to get excited about.

God certainly has high hopes for our futures! However, for all of this to materialize we need to be on a quest to find Him. We need to seek Him in all things to discover how God thinks and to get to know Him better. Seeking God is a life style, a lifelong journey. While seeking Him out, we’re doing ourselves a huge favor. His elaborate plans coming to fruition are the best things happening in this random thing called life. Life maybe a wild ride, but through it all we can always trust Him and rest assured:

His plans for us are good – plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a bright future.

Proverbs 19:20-21: “Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”

In the course of my life I have made many plans, not the least of which was moving from Germany to the United States. After switching countries I had to start over in every aspect of my life – socially, professionally, you name it. And as my English vocabulary grew, so grew my horizon. Steeped in more than one culture has had that effect on me.

However, as a person walking by faith there is another important element to life, and that is the fact that God has plans for my life too. Sometimes my planning coincides with His plans, but clearly, sometimes it absolutely doesn’t. It’s when life happens. Nobody plans to have an accident. Nobody plans a layoff. Sometimes we plan to have children, and it doesn’t happen, or the other way around – we don’t plan to have children, and we know how that goes!

Getting all the advice and instruction we can is indeed the best way to plan for the unplanned, for situations that catch us off-guard. On a personal note, my faith has helped me through many bumpy roads, and through it all I’ve gained a deeper connection with both God and people.

The best way to look at things we have no control over – and we actually don’t have control over a myriad of things – is to trust His promise that God has good plans for you and me. Trust in the Lord’s goodness in the face of adversity. Trust Him that He is near when He seems far. Trust His resources that He can help, especially when we are at the end of our rope. That’s the best we can do in any crisis. That’s the best we can do when none of our plans seem to come to fruition.

On that note: God has a better plan for you or anybody in this world than anything that you and I could come up with. So, let’s not give up dreaming even though our plans may have fallen through. As long as there is a today we need to continue planting seeds of hope and love wherever we go. “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” – is a famous quote from Old Martin Luther who was born on November 10, 1483 and died on February 18, 1546. We all are born to live and die at some point, but we could plant a lot of apple trees along the way; other people will sit in its shade and enjoy the fruit without even knowing the person who planted it. And with all the seed-bearing apples involved, a whole orchard could grow out of that one tree. – You get the point!

However, as we are getting busy planting our apple trees to leave a legacy behind, let’s not forget that everything good we accomplish is God’s gift. And all the running and anxiousness we are prone to will finally come to an end when we see Him on the other side of Heaven. The most important truth that stands forever is this: God loves us, and He is merciful. We don’t have to make Him love us. He loves us already. We don’t have to convince Him to be merciful. He is full of mercy and understands us like no other. That’s a good reason to smile.

“You’ll find that life is still worthwhile if you just smile!” Charlie Chaplin