Many of God’s plans are detailed throughout the Bible. He has plans for nations, for people groups, and for individuals. Isaiah 46:10–11 summarizes what God wants us to know about His plans: “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.” It’s one thing to recognize that God has an overarching plan for the world; it is quite another to acknowledge that God has a specific life plan for each person.
Many places in Scripture indicate that God does have a specific plan for each human being. It starts before we are conceived. The Lord told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). God’s plan was not reactive, a response to Jeremiah’s conception. It was preemptive, implying that God specially formed this male child to accomplish His plan. David underscores this truth: “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). Unborn children are not accidents. They are being formed by their Creator for His purposes. That is one reason abortion is wrong. We have no right to disrespect God’s plan and violate God’s workmanship by killing a child He is in the process of forming.
God’s plan for every human being is that each one comes to know Him and accept His offer of salvation (2 Peter 3:9). He created us for fellowship with Him, and, when we reject the reconciliation He offers, we live at cross purposes with His plan for us. Beyond salvation, God also designed good works for each of us according to our gifts, strengths, and opportunities (Ephesians 2:10). He orchestrated the location and time into which each of us is born (Psalm 139:16). If He knows the number of hairs on our heads, then He knows us better than we know ourselves (Luke 12:7). He knows the gifts, talents, strengths, and weaknesses He gave us, and He knows how we could best use them to make an eternal impact. He gives us opportunities to store up treasure in heaven so that, for all eternity, we can enjoy His reward (Mark 9:41; Matthew 10:41–42).
God’s plan for each person is generally stated in Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” His plan is for relationship over duties. When we walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 25), enjoying a loving relationship with the Lord, our actions indicate that closeness. Pleasing Him is our delight. His plan unfolds naturally as we grow in faith, mature in knowledge, and practice obedience with all we understand. As we obey His general plan for His children, we discover His uniquely designed plan for us individually.
We know God’s plan for those who know Him includes reaching others with the good news of salvation (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 5:20). His plan is for His children to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). He wants us to grow in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18). He wants us to love other Christians the way He loves us (John 13:34). As we follow His Word, we will discover our own spiritual gifts and abilities that specially suit us to serve Him in unique ways (2 Corinthians 12:4–11). God’s plan unfolds in our lives as we use all we have for His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).
We often become impatient in wondering what God’s plan is for our lives. But it is not as complicated as we make it out to be. God’s plan for us is revealed a little at a time as we follow Him, and His plan may look different in different seasons of life. A young woman may ask God to direct her to His plan and believes college is part of that plan. But halfway through college, she falls ill and must spend the next two years in a convalescent home. Is she now out of God’s plan? Not if her heart is set to obey Him. In that convalescent home, she meets a young man who becomes her husband. They both love the Lord and desire to serve Him and believe that His plan for them is the mission field. They begin preparation, but halfway through the training, she becomes pregnant with a high-risk pregnancy. Did they miss God’s plan? Has the Lord abandoned them? Not at all. Because of their experience caring for a child with special needs, they are able to minister to other families with similar needs. Their mission field looks much different from the one they had envisioned, but it is God’s plan for them. They are able to look back and see His hand in every turn along the way.
God’s plan is rarely a straight shot to a visible goal. His plan requires of us a journey, illustrated so well in Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, and that journey may be filled with detours, sudden stops, and confusing turns. But if our hearts are set to obey Him in all that we know to do, then we will be in the center of His will every step of the way.