IN 2016 MY HUSBAND, Pavel, and I were living in Kentucky, United States, as he was the pastor of the Lexington SDA Church. Our older son, Gabriel, lived in Wisconsin with his wife, Denisa, and our granddaughter Eva. They were seven hours away by car.
That summer Denisa was looking for a place to do her master’s degree in nuclear physics. One of the few places she could choose was the University of Kentucky in Lexington, and we encouraged her to apply so they would be closer to us. However, her application was turned down.
We all talked together, and in our conversation Denisa pointed out, “We would love to be closer to you, but you just said in your sermon today that in all things in life we should depend on God. You said that we need to seek God’s plan and trust in Him even when we don’t understand what is going on, because ‘all things work together for good to those who love God’ (Romans 8:28). Shouldn’t we pray about it?”
The four of us decided to pray for a week. The following Monday Denisa received an invitation to be part of a medical physics program in Pennsylvania. We were not very happy. Now they would move farther away instead of closer! But we accepted it as God’s plan.
Then God’s plan was revealed as, just a few months later, my husband was called to work in Maryland, much closer to Pennsylvania. What if our children had moved to Kentucky and then we had moved to Maryland? God knew the future and planned things better than we could have imagined.
A DAILY FAITH
The Bible shares many stories of people of faith who depended on God, not only in the big decisions but also in their daily life. They walked with God. Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, and Moses, to name a few, continually followed God’s plan and fully trusted in Him.
So many times we are tempted to stress out if things don’t seem to go the way we think they should. We pray that God will help with our plans. However, the Bible clearly says that God has plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11). Therefore, we should pray for the fulfillment of His plans rather than ours, even though they may not make a lot of sense to us.
Ellen White writes, “When we take into our hands the management of things with which we have to do, and depend upon our own wisdom for success, we are taking a burden which God has not given us, and are trying to bear it without His aid. We are taking upon ourselves the responsibility that belongs to God, and thus are really putting ourselves in His place. We may well have anxiety and anticipate danger and loss, for it is certain to befall us. But when we really believe that God loves us and means to do us good we shall cease to worry about the future. We shall trust God as a child trusts a loving parent. Then our troubles and torments will disappear, for our will is swallowed up in the will of God.”1
In order to follow God’s daily plans for our life, we must first be filled with God’s presence. We need to hear His voice, to be sensitive to His leading, to be continually connected, to know Him personally so much that we fully trust in Him. “Everyone needs to have a personal experience in obtaining a knowledge of the will of God,” Ellen White writes. “We must individually hear Him speaking to the heart.”2
To seek God’s plans simply means that we need to give up our own. We cannot chase both God’s plan and our ideas and expect any progress and peace. Our plans are far from God’s, as far as heaven is from earth. Isaiah records the words of God: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways. . . . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways” (Isaiah 55:8, 9). If we try to love God yet try to follow our own will, we fail.
“Too many, in planning for a brilliant future, make an utter failure,” Ellen White warns. “Let God plan for you. . . . God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as co-workers with Him.”3
As we seek God’s leading, we then must give up our own agenda and surrender our plans to His. Ellen White shares this advice: “Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ.”4
TRUST IN HIM
We often don’t experience God’s power and leading because we don’t trust Him enough to let Him lead. We usually feel the need to understand in order to obey. It may be hard, but trust in Him no matter what! Faith is not when you understand but when you trust although you don’t see. Remember, things didn’t go according to Joseph’s or Moses’ plans either. Yet they decided to trust in God.
Focusing on challenges causes stress and leads to hasty decisions. Keep your eyes continually on Him, repeat His promises, remember how He has led you in the past, and continually choose to trust in Him. “All things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).
Our Lord and Savior had plenty of wisdom to plan His life; nevertheless, He daily followed His Father’s plan. Jesus was completely and continually dependent on the Father. He said that He did not do His own will or works but only the will and the works of the Father (John 6:38; 9:4).
“The Son of God was surrendered to the Father’s will, and dependent upon His power,” Ellen White shares. “So utterly was Christ emptied of self that He made no plans for Himself. He accepted God’s plans for Him, and day by day the Father unfolded His plans. So should we depend upon God, that our lives may be the simple outworking of His will.”5
It may seem stressful to surrender our plans and follow His leading, but when we do that we will never regret it. If God gave Jesus for us, how much more will He give us all other things that are necessary for our needs (Romans 8:32)?
Listen to these words of Ellen White: “If today we would take time to go to Jesus and tell Him our needs, we should not be disappointed; He would be at our right hand to help us.”6 “[God] will help His believing children in every emergency if they will place their entire confidence in Him and faithfully obey Him.”7
BEING AN EXAMPLE
While it’s essential for all of God’s children to be continually connected and dependent on Him, it’s absolutely vital for the leaders and their families to do that. How can we advise, teach, and support others unless we know God from our own experience? To have power in words, we must first practically experience trust in Him ourselves. And this may be more difficult for leaders. It’s most likely easier for leaders to find solutions and act based on their own wisdom and experience. Yet it is crucial to learn to wait upon the Lord, seek His wisdom, and follow Him and His plans in faith.
In our family my husband and I ideally plan things together. Yet he’s often busy with meetings, preaching, or church activities, and I have to plan and act by myself. The tendency would be to do that based on my own wisdom. I constantly remind myself to follow God’s plans and fully rely on Him.
Personally, I don’t think we need to always know and understand His plans in order to follow them. That is no longer faith but science. I rather seek the assurance of His presence and make myself available to His leading and to service. I try to seek first His kingdom by praying, studying, and reflecting until I have the confidence that He is with me and have peace and joy. I have never regretted this; all our best experiences with God have happened when we have decided to wait upon Him, put Him first, and trust in Him.
How would life be if we, as God’s children, would daily and completely surrender and then depend on His leading in all we do? So much pain and unnecessary stress would be avoided. Even trials that, at that moment, may not make a lot of sense later prove to be a blessing.
You can never really trust a stranger, as trust grows from a strong and close relationship with someone. Therefore, instead of attempting to come up with solutions to your challenges, strengthen your relationship with God, follow Him, and decide to fully trust in Him. Only then can we experience His intervention, power, and peace. I value this wonderful promise: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3).
God is calling us to a higher experience with Him, to know, continually depend upon, and fully trust in Him. Only then can He lead us, transform us, and use us for His glory. Only then do we become more and more like Jesus. And that’s the single way to prepare for heaven. It is for us to daily decide to have this experience, and we must do that today, every day. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5, 6).
1 Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 100, 101.
2 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 363.
3 Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 479.
4 Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 70.
5 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 208.
6 Ibid., p. 363.
7 Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 493.