Fast forward only three years, because I was in a rush to…I don’t know what. I was sitting with 1,000 people in a basketball stadium, all of whom were about to walk across a stage and receive a piece of paper that announced they had studied hard and became a specialist in a field. Me? Philosophy, Religion and Psychology. A marketable set of degrees when looking for a career. Except, there was no paper in my folder…only a reminder that I was a few credits shy of graduating. I spent the first half of the summer accumulating those credits so I could move on quickly.
In the years that have passed since these milestones and transitions, much has occurred in my life. Some of it has challenged my faith, my family, my being. Some of it has unfolded to be a deep blessing to me and those around me. And at the age I have attained, you recognize that sometimes the things that challenge you at first have been worked into an unexpected blessing in your life.
God reminds the people of Israel through the prophet Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) This is a powerful reminder to any of us going through milestones and transitions in our lives. God’s plans are always for goodness and blessing, prospering and thriving in life. If you come across a situation in your life that brings that to you and to the world around you, you can safely assume God is in that. God never causes harm to you or others, though sometimes we are hurt by the circumstances of a broken and conflicted world. If you come across situations in your life that bring pain and heartache and brokenness to you or to others, you can safely assume that this is not God’s plan for your life.
God’s hope and a future come whether there are circumstances that prosper or circumstances that harm you because God is always at work in the messiness of our lives to turn everything into a blessing. Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to God’s purposes.” (Romans 8:28) Like a master artist, God takes the raw materials of our lives and molds and shapes and reworks them into goodness and beauty and blessing, for us and for the world around us.
This weekend we celebrate milestones and transitions. High school seniors are graduating. Young adults have degrees and are looking for positions in their career field of choice. For you who are in this kind of season of transition, I want to encourage you to look with eyes of faith on the circumstances of your lives. If what we are in or choosing brings goodness and blessing to you and others, if it prospers the world around you, then it is likely a part of God’s plans for you. If what you are in or are choosing brings harm and pain and exasperates the brokenness of the world, they it is likely not a part of God’s plans for you. While God’s plans are more like directional signs than blueprints, you can trust that when you are off course, God is working behind the scenes to bring from the circumstances of your life the goodness and blessing and prospering that God promised.
Blessings to all of our graduates and those transitioning in life. May you know and be assured of God’s promise of working all things together for good.
Pastor Becky Jo