“I know the plans I have
You will seek me and find me
when you seek me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29: 11,13 (NIV)
I believe God had plans for me even before I was a twinkle in my Dad’s eyes. Somehow, growing up in a happy but not particularly religious family, I always believed in God.
My earliest recollection of God being talked about occurred when I was a skinny six or seven-year-old changing out of my wet swimming suit in an old wooden bathhouse, as my aunt, a Christian Scientist visiting from far off California, taught me the Lord’s Prayer!
Learning about the Pilgrims was all I remember from the eighth grade confirmation classes in the Congregational Church.
After I married Phil, a cradle Episcopalian, I slept in while he went off to church.
Fast Forward. Three children later, all baptized and in church with us every Sunday, I began to deal with Jesus. Who was He, anyway? I looked for Him first in the public library. (I didn’t find him.) Our priest gave me a little better direction, and eventually I accepted Jesus as Lord. I was confirmed in the Episcopal Church and God became my part-time consultant.
Fast Forward. A new couple at the coffee hour talked about Jesus as though they really knew Him! Strange! Not long after several other strange “God incidences.” I found myself with Phil, on my knees on someone’s living room floor. A truly born-again moment. God became my full-time boss. A few years later, Cursillo in the mountains of New Mexico. A heavenly spiritual high!
Fast Forward. St. John’s Naples. Children all leaving the nest. A witnessing community reaching out to me. A twenty year journey of regular church involvement and attendance. But there were many weeks when I never thought about God from Sunday to Sunday. God had again become my part-time consultant.
Unhappy with my faith journey, I asked a good friend, Joan Warren, what I might do. Joan organized a handful of women who committed with us to a weekly morning meeting with the goal of growing spiritually. At first there was no difference in my life except I had to admit to the group that God had again been pretty much forgotten. But then it changed.
One of the women in the group said that she would get up every morning at 6:00 a.m. for the coming week to pray for me if I would get up at 6:00 a.m. to spend some quiet time with God. It was one of the most touching gifts I’ve ever received, and it changed my life.
Quiet time with God is now a daily part of my life, and “Grouping,” as we call it, has made the biggest difference in my spiritual journey. Support, prayer, encouragement, and love for one another—all these in abundance. But most importantly, my needing to be honest with the group has kept me honest with myself.
Recently, God has been speaking to me powerfully through his Word. The words “I have plans for you” keep going through my mind (Jeremiah 29:11). Until now, however, I never saw Jeremiah 29:13, just two lines later, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” And that has become my verse.
The more time I spend seeking Him, the more I realize what an awesome God He is and how unbelievably great is His love for me, for us. God has been filling me with incredible joy and gratitude. What I seek is more of God because I know He has plans for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me. And whatever His Plans are for me, He will be with me every step of the way. Bonnie Schlichting