February 13, 2018 • Life for Leaders
With all wisdom and understanding, he 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.
When I was growing up, I often ran into the Four Spiritual Laws. They were given to me at church, at camp, and every now and then by a stranger in a shopping mall. The Four Spiritual Laws were found in a booklet published by Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU). These “laws” sought to make the gospel simple and available, so that people who did not know Christ might come to know him in a saving, personal way. The first of these “laws” was that “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”
That sounds great. How inspiring to know that God has a wonderful plan for our lives. But sometimes our lives don’t seem to reflect this “law.” I think of people I know who are stuck in jobs they dislike but need to keep on working for financial reasons. Or I envision people I know who appeared to be experiencing God’s wonderful plan until they were struck down in an accident or diagnosed with a terminal illness. All of us could share stories, often from our own lives, of “wonderful plans” that just didn’t materialize. We might secretly conclude that if God has a wonderful plan for our lives, he has a funny way of showing it.
As we have seen in our previous devotions on Ephesians, God does have a wonderful plan, but it is much bigger than a plan for your life or my life. God’s plan is for the entire cosmos, for “all things in heaven and on earth” (1:10). Does this imply that God has a wonderful plan for our individual lives? Yes, indeed. We are included among the “all things” in God’s plan. But the emphasis in Ephesians stretches us far beyond our individualism.
If we were to compose a new set of “laws” or basic truths from Ephesians, we might begin with something more like this: God loves all things and has a wonderful plan for everything… including you! If we want to know God’s plan for us, we begin not with ourselves, nor with our passions, nor with our struggles, but with God, God’s amazing grace, God’s transforming love. We begin by having our minds and hearts expanded by the scope of God’s plan and by opening ourselves to the role God has for us to play in his work in the world. Thus, we live not for our own fulfillment but rather for the praise of God’s glory (1:12). When we focus on God, not ourselves, then we are in a position to discover afresh how God’s plan for all things is, indeed, a wonderful plan for our lives as well.
Something to Think About:
Before you read this devotion, did you think God had a wonderful plan for your life? Why or why not?
How might God’s plan for all things make a difference in your day-to-day life?
Something to Do:
Reflect for a while on God’s plan to unite all things in Christ. What thoughts come to mind? What feelings? What images? What longings are stirred up in your heart? Talk to God about all that is happening inside of you.
Gracious God, thank you, once again, for your wonderful plan for creation. Thank you for the promise that, in just the right time, you will unite all things in Christ. Thank you for how this plan inspires us, directs us, and empowers us.
Thank you, dear Lord, for including me in your plan. You have a wonderful plan for all things, including me. By your grace, you have saved me so that I might walk in the good works you have planned for me. How amazing!
Help me, I pray, to keep your plan for all things in my mind and heart, so that I might live each day inspired by the ultimate unity that will come through Christ. May my life, at work and at home, in church and in my city, be a reflection of your plan. May I truly live each day, wherever I am, for the praise of your glory. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
How to Live After ‘Happily Ever After’
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.