In Jessamyn West’s Friendly Persuasion, Quaker farmer Jess Birdwell wonders — as he takes flowers to a funeral for an orphaned boy who had been beaten to death by his foster father — if this simple gesture is the whole reason he was born? And, in doing so, has he fulfilled God’s plan for him?
That passage has stuck with me for years. After all, how do we really know what God’s plan for each of us is? What makes us think there is one?
Oh, we can string events together and build a broad outline, but no one can guess what the truth is.
Wise parent that He is, God has given us all the tools and guidelines it takes to follow and then sets us free. But it seems too scary out there on that limb all alone!
One of Jesus’ goals was to convince people that God is ever present and no one is actually alone. With Jesus as our companion, things become clearer – not less scary maybe – but clearer.
All the great adjectives, phrases and descriptions of good, honest, loving people apply to Jesus. He was compassionate and tolerant, but he was not a fool as the moneychangers in the Temple discovered.
He drew people to him because he smiled and looked right at them, acknowledging their existence, which didn’t happen often to the poor. Still doesn’t, by the way. He went wherever he wanted and fit in wherever that was — because he was absolutely sure the love of the Father was with him.
We have both the love of the Father and the companionship of the Son. We can’t worry about what will define our purpose; we must live our lives in Christ, making every encounter count for something. We have to learn to forgive ourselves when we mess up and trust in the loving grace of God to strengthen us to persevere.