Got plans? 8th graders? Parents? Everyone here? Got plans…for summer? For life?
When I was in 8th grade, I planned to either be an NFL football player (preferably a wide receiver) or a pastor. The NFL never called, but God did, and the rest is history…
Do your plans matter? I’ll tell you what matters: if God isn’t at the heart of your planning, if you’re not staying close to him in Word and Sacrament, if you’re not seeking his blessing, if you thinking, “This is going to be all about me – what I want and what I think” – your plans don’t matter. Good luck trying to carve out “My Way” out of the divine landscape that lies ahead.
The words of your class verse were spoken to different people at a different time in different circumstances. God’s Old Testament people were in exile in Babylon – hundreds of miles away from their homeland – around 600 BC. In Jeremiah 29, God promises that after 70 years he will bring them back from exile and that he will continue to bless them and be with them as only he can. Your class verse is at the heart of this: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to give you peace, not disaster, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
I like the two verses that follow. Jeremiah 29:11 has become a very popular verse in our day, and we can certainly apply it to ourselves, but it’s good to remember the context: different people at a different time in different circumstances. That’s why I love the two verses that follow. They remind us that what matters most in life isn’t stuff or activity or accomplishments – the five of you will accumulate all of those things – the key thing in life is your relationship with your Savior. “Then you will call on me and come to pray to me, and I will listen to you. When you seek me, you will find me, when you will seek me with all your heart.” (vv. 12,13) At the heart of God’s plans for you is a deeper, closer relationship with him.
The future is always unknown, uncertain. But keep in mind that the Lord has already taken care of his biggest and best plans for your life: he’s conquered your sin and death by his grace and mercy, sent his Son to save you with his perfect life/his bloody, sacrificial death on the cross to pay for sin/his glorious resurrection. He’s claimed you as his own through the Holy Spirit’s work through his Word, through the water and the Word of Holy Baptism. You and your future are in good hands!
Two days ago, in this very place there was a funeral for someone who reached the age of 80. The five of you can’t imagine being 80 years old, can you? You can’t even imagine begin as “old” as your parents, because you think they’re old; but they’re not! But this gentleman was once 14, in 8th grade like you and by grace he listened to the voice of his Good Shepherd Jesus all through his life and all the way home to heaven.
One day there will be a service like that for everyone here, regardless of your age. Loved ones will gather and mourn and remember…you. No one will talk about your plans when you were a young teenager because no one will remember that. But they will remember your Savior, their Savior, who will hold you in the palm of his hand/close to his heart and guide your steps all life long.
Got plans? I hope you do. I know you do. But God has plans for you, too. And his plans are always best. Cling to these words. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to give you peace, not disaster, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand