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For Maundy Thursday: God’s plan for your life

There have been a number of times when I have been truly blessed to meet someone who I knew was both “called to ministry” and “called to be MY friend”.

The author of the following is such a person, and I so thrilled to be able to share something he wrote for the American Bible Society‘s e-mail devotionals based on the Lectionary readings for the week and church Holidays.

At the end of this I include a extra paragraoh that was not included in the e-Bulletin sent out by the American Bible Society.

“Discover God’s Plan For Your Life!”

by JimHarvey

Maundy Thursday
March 20, 2008

Exodus 12:1-4 [5-10] 11-14
Psalm 116:1, 12-19
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-7, 31b-35

Discerning God’s Plan for Your Life

One recent morning, while riding in a New York City subway car, I looked up from my seat to see an ad for a book. The book purported to be able to give its readers the tools to create the life they desired by following a prescribed number of steps. In bold letters next to a replica of the book’s cover, readers were encouraged to find out God’s plan for their lives. Perusing both the ad and the book’s title, I had to ask myself, “Does the one really have anything to do with the other?”

I have not read this book, so I cannot make any comments on its usefulness. I would hope, though, that if you followed the author’s instructions, you would indeed achieve a life more like the life you want to live. But that is discovering your plan for your life. God might have something completely different in mind. Comfort might be our desire, but Jesus makes it clear that we are called to a life of service, and service is usually not very comfortable.

In John 13, Jesus sets for his disciples, and for us, an example of humble service. Getting one’s hands and knees to wash someone’s feet is not a comfortable position for the washer, but it does show concern for the comfort of the one whose feet are being washed. That is service, but beyond that, when Jesus “…laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself,” (John 13.4b, KJV) he was laying aside the things of the world and making himself open and vulnerable.

Jesus does not promise that if we follow his example we will be comfortable or achieve the life we desire. But, he does promise a joy that comes from serving God, serving others, and living in harmony with creation. “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” (John 13:17, KJV).

God’s plan for your life is not revealed by following steps prescribed in a book advertised on the subway. It is revealed through meditation, prayerful discernment, and by an openness to the possible agony that goes with it, all the while knowing that joy is the promise in the end.

The Reflection for Maundy Thursday was prepared by James Harvey, MA, a graduate of Garrett- Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL who serves as Lay Leader at the Park Slope United Methodist Church in Brooklyn, NY.

When Jesus went to Gethsemane , I am pretty certain that he was NOT looking for eight simple steps to getting the life he wanted.  He had already discovered God’s plan for his life (John 13.1), and from what we read in Matthew, he was not happy with what he had discovered.  He says, “My Father, if it be possible, take this cup of suffering from me!  Yet not what I want, but what you want.” (Matthew 26.39b GNT)  Considering this, how dare we assume that God’s plan for us includes wealth, power and creature comforts?


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