January 31, 2018 • Life for Leaders
[God] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
On June 6, 1944, after months of careful planning, the Allied forces of World War II invaded France. Over 150,000 troops stormed the beaches of Normandy in an effort to liberate Europe from German tyranny. Later on D-Day, Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain, described the events in a speech to Parliament: “So far the Commanders who are engaged report that everything is proceeding according to plan. And what a plan!”
What a plan indeed! The D-Day plan was extraordinary, not only in its complexity, but also in its impact. It was central to the eventual liberation of Europe from the scourge of Nazi oppression and the defeat of Hitler.
In Ephesians 1:9-10 we find another plan, a plan that has an even greater result than the D-Day plan. The NIV speaks of what God “purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment.” The Greek original speaks more literally of God’s “plan for the fullness of the times.” The word translated as “plan” is oikonomia in Greek, a noun that can be rendered in English as “management, arrangement, or order,” in addition to “plan.”
The language of this passage reveals that what will happen in the future isn’t a matter of randomness or chance. Rather, God has a plan for the future. In just the right time, God will re-order all things in the universe in fulfillment of the plan he formulated even before the creation of the world (see Ephesians 1:4).
If God has such a plan, surely we want to know it. Wouldn’t it be great to know what God is really up to in the world? In fact, verse 9 observes that God has, in fact, “made known to us the mystery of his will.” Therefore, we can know what God’s plan is, so that we might allow this plan to shape our lives.
In upcoming devotions, we’ll learn more about God’s plan and how it matters, not just for the future, but also for how we live today. We’ll see how this plan touches everything in life, and therefore gives new meaning and purpose to how we live each day, at work and at home, in our neighborhood and in our church, in our relationships and in our hopes. As we come to understand God’s amazing plan, we’ll find ourselves echoing the words of Churchill, “And what a plan!”
Something to Think About:
Before we examine God’s plan, I’d like to encourage you to think about how you envision God’s plan for creation… and for your own life. The following questions might help.
What is God’s plan for creation? What is God up to, in the big picture?
Do you think God has a plan for your life? If so, what is it?
What plans do you have for your life? How are your plans related to God’s plans, if they are at all?
Something to Do:
With a good friend or in your small group, talk about the “big” plans you have for your life. Where did these plans come from? Or, if you don’t have “big” plans, share why not.
Gracious God, thank you for being sovereign over all things. Thank you for having a plan for the future. Thank you for making your plan known to us, so that we might be sure our plans for living reflect your plans both for the cosmos and for us.
Help us, we pray, to understand more deeply the plans you have for us. May we have confidence that your plans will prosper and not harm us. May your plans give us hope and a future. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
How Can I Know God’s Will for My Life?
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
What if God’s plan for my life is something very mundane, ordinary, drudgery-like? We all hope it will be something good but what if it is not? We all know people whose lives consisted of just taking care of sick family members or subsistence work just to survive; or even those who have been victims of crime, hurt or killed. What are we to make of situations like that?
Hello, Anita. What a great question! Mostly, God’s specific plans for our lives tend to be rather mundane. But, and this is the important point, our mundane lives can be part of God’s grand plan if we choose to live for his purposes. So, much of what we do in this life won’t be glorious. Some of it will be very hard. But it can all be part of God’s plan, not just for our lives, but for creation.