Dean's List: God's Plan for You
By Aaron T. Fenker
What's God's Plan for My Life?
It's a question so many people ask. We struggle and hope to find God's will, His blessing, and His plan for our lives in an effort to feel fulfilled, so we can live a God-pleasing life. Maybe you've had questions like: "Which college should I choose?" "What should my major be?" "Is this the job for me?" "Should I date this guy or girl?" "Which car does God want me to buy?"
God's will for you is simple. He "desires," that is, wills and wants "all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all" (1 Timothy 2:4–6). Jesus says, "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40).
God's will is to save you, and He's not only willed it but planned it from before the foundation of the world, "having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" (Ephesians 1:5). Jesus' death and resurrection to save you was planned before there ever was you, or your family, or even the universe itself. This plan didn't just include Jesus' death and resurrection, but also involved your adoption. God planned and predestined you to be His holy and beloved baptized child--a plan He realized when you were "baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38).
So, Now What?
What do you do now? What shall you do? Well, just look at the "shalls" and "shall nots" of God--His Holy Law. The Ten Commandments is where you find what God wants you to do. It's actually pretty simple--to understand, not to do, of course. (That's why you needed Jesus to die for you.) It's straightforward: "We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things." (Small Catechism, 1st Commandment Explanation) That's Commandments One, Two, and Three. Commandments Four through Ten are also simple: "The commandments. . .are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Romans 13:9).
"Faith toward God." "Fervent," that is, heart-felt, true, sincere "love toward one another." You pray for that. After receiving Jesus' Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins, you pray that your faith would be strengthened and your love for others would increase that you may serve them the best way you can, the best way you know how, and in the best place where God has placed you.
Yes, God has placed you somewhere. Yes, you--specifically you and specifically for that person next to you. That's what we learn from Scripture, as the Catechism puts it, "Consider your place in life according to the Ten Commandments: Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker?" (Small Catechism, Confession: Which are these?)
Your heavenly Father planned this, too. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). He planned everything for your salvation. He planned when it would happen (Jesus' death and resurrection), when it would be delivered (your Baptism day), and what would flow from the new life created in you that day (the good works in which we walk).
Now, What Does This Mean?
It means God planned which people you'd love and serve. He knew you'd be there to forgive them, to help them, to serve them, to work for them, to be born from them, to care for them, to have children of your own, and on and on. "Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker?" (Small Catechism, Confession: Which are these?) All these stations or vocations are a gift from your heavenly Father that He might gift you to others.
Now, what does this not mean? This does not mean that you have to worry about God choosing your specific career path for you--that you need to discern, feel, and listen for God's voice as to which major to choose, or whether you should get this job or that job. God's Word doesn't say that. You may have skills in science but also have skills in teaching, and then later on you might choose to do something completely different than doctor or science teacher or whatever else.
You Won't Miss Out
There's no dream destiny that God has planned for you that you might miss out on. So many Christians out there struggle with finding out God's plan. St. Augustine, who was a pastor and theologian in the 4th/5th century, summarized what Scripture says on this. He said, "We grant that all people have a free will. It is free as far as it has the judgment of reason. . .It is free only in works of this life, whether good or evil. Good I call those works that spring from the good in nature, such as willing to labor in the field, to eat and drink, to have a friend, to clothe oneself, to build a house, to marry a wife, to raise cattle, to learn various useful arts, or whatsoever good applies to this life" (Augsburg Confession XVII: Free Will).
So when you're faced with, for example, deciding which college you should attend or which job you should accept, what do you do? Well first, look at your decision in light of the "shalls" and "shall nots" we talked about earlier. Then look at the wisdom of the decision and in doing so, seek out the counsel of trusted people in your life, like your parents, your pastor or another older, experienced friend. If those most trusted in your life think that college you've got your heart set on is NOT for you, you need to very carefully consider that counsel.
You Really Are Free
So basically, God saves in you in Jesus Christ, His Son, He baptizes you, and then you are free. Free to love your neighbor. Free to think about which career suits you. It may change later, and that's okay. You love your neighbor whether you're a "father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker." You're free to buy this house or that, to work here or there, to study teaching, science, or whatever else.
Whether you're single or not, parent or not, worker or not, your destiny is assured: eternal life with Jesus, His Father, and the Holy Spirit is yours. Jesus has died and risen for you. That doesn't change. You're baptized into Christ; you're God's adopted child. That doesn't change. He's called you to love those around you. And that doesn't change.
That's all God's plan: signed, sealed, and delivered. You don't have to wonder. You don't have to feel out Him and His will. What's His plan? He's revealed His plan to you--Jesus' death and resurrection for you. His revealed plan continues--Christ baptizing you, living in you, loving through you--all the way to eternal life.
Rev. Aaron T. Fenker is the pastor of Bethlehem and Immanuel Lutheran churches in Bremen, Kansas. He is the dean of theology for Higher Things.
This article was originally published in the summer 2017 issue of Higher Things Magazine.
Reflections: January 1, 2021This Just In: The Ultimate ResolutionReflections: January 2, 2021Reflections: January 3, 2021Reflections: January 4, 2021Video Short: January 5, 2021Video Short: January 4, 2021Reflections: January 5, 2021Reflections: January 6, 2021Video Short: January 6, 2021Under the Cross: Don't Look at the ListReflections: January 7, 2021Video Short: January 7, 2021Video Short: January 8, 2021Reflections: January 8, 2021Dean's List: The Catechism Really Is for YouReflections: January 9, 2021Reflections: January 10, 2021Reflections: January 11, 2021Video Short: January 11, 2021Helpful Things: Fundraising Essentials FOR YOUReflections: January 13, 2021Video Short: January 12, 2021Reflections: January 12, 2021Video Short: January 13, 2021Reflections: January 14, 2021Video Short: January 14, 2021Under the Cross: You Don't Belong to This WorldReflections: January 15, 2021Video Short: January 15, 2021Reflections: January 16, 2021Reflections: January 17, 2021Reflections: January 18, 2021Video Short: January 18, 2021This Just In: Martin Luther King, Jr.--The Man Who Had a DreamReflections: January 19, 2021Video Short: January 19, 2021Dead Christians You Should Know About: Saint SebastianReflections: January 20, 2021Video Short: January 20, 2021Video Short: January 21, 2021Reflections: January 21, 2021Reflections: January 22, 2021Reflections: January 23, 2021Video Short: January 22, 2021Dean's List: Jesus Hits the Spot!Reflections: January 24, 2021Reflections: January 25, 2021Reflections: January 26, 2021Video Short: The Conversion of St. PaulHelpful Things: Effective Fundraising Through Midweek MealsVideo Short: Suffering Doesn't Mean God Doesn't Love YouReflections: January 27, 2021Video Short: Woke Wednesday: Karma, Karma, KarmaVideo Short: Abortion and the Church's WorkReflections: January 28, 2021Reflections: January 29, 2021Video Short: What Goes On In Your Pastor's Mind About Closed CommunionFoundations: You Need Your Pastor More Than EverReflections: January 30, 2021Reflections: January 31, 2021
Reflections: February 1, 2021Video Short: Stretching Out To RepentVideo Short: Parable of Those Gifted in the VineyardReflections: February 2, 2021Dead Christians You Should Know About: Saint Blaise of SebasteSpeaking of Faith: The Liturgy Is Tried and True EvangelismReflections: February 3, 2021Video Short: Woke Wednesday De-platformingReflections: February 4, 2021Video Short: Hearing Law and GospelVideo Short: The Anti-Catholic ParadoxDean's List: Called to ServeReflections: February 5, 2021Reflections: February 6, 2021Reflections: February 7, 2021Reflections: February 8, 2021Video Short: Ears on the Sower... And the SeedReflections: February 9, 2021Helpful Things: Sex, Sexuality, and BaptismVideo Short: The Simple Definition of Faith That Will Rescue You From Your DoubtsReflections: February 10, 2021Video Short: Woke Wednesday: Wokeism and ChristianityVideo Short: What Your Pastor Thinks When Preaching the LawReflections: February 11, 2021Reflections: February 12, 2021Video Short: Valentines and LoveUnder the Cross: Valentine's Day StinksReflections: February 13, 2021Reflections: February 14, 2021Reflections: February 15, 2021Video Short: Lent is Almost HereVideo Short: Lent For Evangelical ChristiansReflections: February 16, 2021Welcome to Lent - Supplement to the ReflectionsVideo Short: How to Fast in LentReflections: February 17, 2021Reflections: February 18, 2021Video Short: Lutherans Aren't the Cult of LutherReflections: February 19, 2021