Plans of Grace

Plans of Grace

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…”

I was once told to write down graces I had received, so during those times when God felt distant I could be reminded of His goodness and abundant gifts in my own life. One of the graces I frequently return to – because I’m a little slow and it can take me a while to internalize things – took place during the YCP retreat in the fall. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, the coffee was good, and the retreat took place in a peaceful house on a lake. We were invited to reflect on ways we had been both close to and far away from God throughout our lives, especially in our professions. My studious self drew a timeline and diligently began listing my sufferings, sins, and wanderings throughout childhood, high school, college, grad school, and professional life. I also listed my joys, achievements, and all the things I had gradually been learning about our loving Father.  I would encourage all of you to try this exercise in your own prayer time. I’ll wait just a moment here while you catch up with me…

I won’t bore you or over-divulge about my past, but as I sat reflecting on everything that had shaped my personality and made me who I am, I realized I wouldn’t trade any of it. As I contemplated all the highs and lows on my timeline, it was very clear that God can use all for good. This concept is much more complex when it comes to abuse or the death of a family member, but I was – for the first time – thankful for all, even the sufferings. This reminded me of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” When I took a figurative step back from my timeline, it all made perfect sense. God let me go through those events so my mind and soul had the appropriate disposition to accomplish the role in His mission that only I can do. Take some time to recognize how your past has formed you and how God might be using this for good…

So, this is where things get interesting, and the biggest grace comes in. Maybe some of you are in the same boat as me, but I seriously have no clue what the next 1, 5, or 50 years on my timeline are going to look like. And on occasion, this freaks me out a little bit. However, just as I took a step back and saw how my timeline was perfectly imperfect thus far, God our Father is taking an even bigger step back - outside of time – and can see my whole life. He sees Brittany, a PA in her late twenties who is loving her friends and family and will frequently forget the only thing she went to the grocery store to get. She wants to love Him and serve Him, and she’s not sure what that will look like. But He’s not worried, because He sees the whole timeline, and how where I am right now fits into the big picture. If I pray and seek Him and act on it, there is really nothing to worry about, because I’ll move along that timeline just as He wills. If I can be so bold as to give you more homework, I would encourage everyone to pray 15 minutes every day so we can know His love and do His will. And for you overachievers, check out the profound “Prayer of Abandonment” by Charles de Foucauld. I hope this all brings you some peace. – Brittany




   Written by: Brittany Ford, Parish Ambassador and member of the YCP Omaha team