Daily Devotion Dec. 15, 2023

“’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, NIV).

     Forest Gump is one of my favorite movies. Gump is befriended by his former military commander, Lieutenant Dan Taylor. Forest rescues Lt. Dan from further injury in the midst of a fierce firefight.

     Unfortunately, Lt. Dan’s legs are badly damaged and are subsequently amputated. Lt. Dan’s response toward Forest is not one of gratitude but hostility. The lieutenant is angry that Gump just didn’t leave his commander in the jungle to die in battle. Lt. Dan believed that dying gloriously in combat was his personal destiny and that Gump robbed him of such honor.

     Eventually, Lt. Dan’s anger is turned toward God. Lt. Dan is incensed that God saved his life, thereby relinquishing the young lieutenant to a life without legs. In short, Lt. Dan experiences a crisis of purpose. He doesn’t understand what his purpose in life is supposed to be. In Lt. Dan’s mind, God disrupted his primary reason for living—to die in battle and be branded a hero.

     Toward the conclusion of the film, Lt. Dan accepts the circumstances of his life. He quietly acknowledges that God’s purpose for his life is much different than his own. In the end, Lt. Dan discovers a level of peace he had not known since he first lost his legs.

     Jeremiah declared these words to a people who failed to understand the change in circumstances they were about to experience: “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, NIV). Nothing can disrupt our sense of inner peace than when God’s purpose for our lives conflicts with our own. We plan. We scheme. We dream. Then, when reality hits we discover that God has prepared a way that is much different from the one we envisioned.

     How often have you heard yourself say, “This is not the way it was supposed to be”? “Nothing has turned out as I had hoped.” These are the moments in which I often hear the words of that little prayer Jesus prayed in a garden: “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus taught that the pathway to peace runs through relinquishment—relinquishing our plans and accepting God’s plans as our own.

     So, my prayer for you as you go about this day is that these words may be foremost in your mind and on your lips:

“Father, bless me this day to be about what you are blessing

rather than asking you to bless my plans. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”