“For I know the plansI have for you,” declares theLord, “plans to prosperyou and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11)

ALL THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL, I was a math and science nerd. I loved solving the puzzles that these disciplines presented. But during my first year at a college of engineering, the desire and appeal for all of that simply evaporated. So I transferred to a Christian college, studied Bible, and then went on to seminary—all the time loving my studies, but having absolutely no idea what I was going to do with my life. In my vocational holding pattern, I stumbled into an entry-level editorial position with a Christian publisher. Three days into the job, I realized “Oh, wow . . . this is it”—this is what God had in mind for me all along.

Jeremiah was writing to God’s people who had been sent into exile. False prophets were proclaiming peace to them, when there was no peace to be found. They had lost their families, their homes, and their dreams. The plans they had laid down for themselves were now in tatters. To these exiles, Jeremiah offered these words of hope: God had a plan for them—a plan for an abundant life once they returned in their hearts to Him.

Solomon reminded us, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Prov. 16:9). Though we may have many plans, it is the Lord, and the Lord alone, who determines the directions of our lives. If we have been reconciled to Him, the Lord’s plans for us go beyond anything we could ask or even think.

Identify and contemplate how you have seen the hand of God at work in your life, despite your detailed plans.

Doug Schmidt is a freelance writer and editor and is on staff with his church as a small-groups coach.