God’s Complete and Well-Balanced Plan for You

Christmas is behind us, and the new year is around the corner. If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking about resolutions or goals or a “word for the year.” Although all those things are good, there’s really only one thing that we need to truly thrive in the new year: the pursuit of God. All year on the True Woman blog, we’ve been looking at what it means to seek God together. We’ve pondered everything from humility to repentance to sexual purity. (Check out the archives to read more on those topics from 2018!) Heidi Jo’s here to wrap up our year-long pursuit and give us something to think on as we make our new year’s resolutions. —Hayley Mullins, True Woman Blog Manager

A friend comes to you with some serious concerns about her seven-year-old daughter.

I just don’t understand what’s going on with Sarah. Second grade started off so great. She was thriving at school. She’s been telling us about all she’s learning and doing. She’s even been writing stories and drawing pictures about school. She’s been so excited that she doesn’t want to go to bed at her usual time, so we’ve been letting her stay up as long as she wants. We thought it would only last a couple nights, but it’s been two weeks now and she’s still talking, reading, and drawing until 2 or 3 a.m. every day! But as excited as she is, it’s starting to be a real struggle to wake her up to get ready for school in the mornings. Plus her teacher called to let us know she’s been falling asleep in class. I just can’t figure this out! Her diet is the same, she loves her school and teacher, and we have had so much extra time together. I just don’t know why she’s so tired!

Okay, it’s pretty obvious I made this up. It is extremely unlikely that any mom would be confused about why her daughter is tired in this scenario. It’s also quite improbable that any parent is going to let their seven-year-old stay up as late as they want day after day. But before you think this story is pointless, let me restate some of the same kind of confusion and short-sightedness in another pretty common scenario.

A friend comes to you with some serious concerns about her life.

I am so lonely. Even though I’m crazy busy at work, I feel like I’m a million miles away from everyone and everything. I think you’re the only friend I’ve talked to face to face for more than five minutes this week. Our newly emptied nest seems even emptier lately. Even God seems far away. I tried meeting with some women from church once a week to pray, but it seemed like someone always had a conflict, so we quit trying. But I’m still praying every day and I read that book on prayer you recommended. Weekends have been busy, so I haven’t been able to make it to church for a few months and there’s no way I have time to read the Bible because things are so nuts. But with all the praying and reading I’ve been doing, I just don’t know why God seems so distant.

Not so far-fetched this time, eh? My guess is you’ve probably had a conversation like this with someone you know. Or maybe you’ve said some things like this to a friend. There are some good, godly pursuits being described in this person’s life, but there’s also obliviousness to two really critical problems.

Deficient Discipline

First, this woman thinks because she is pursuing a couple spiritual disciplines, she should expect to experience closeness with God and fuel for life. Often in these kinds of situations, people are surprised by all kinds of consequences they don’t connect to the other deficiencies in their walk with Christ. The Father has designed a complete and well-balanced plan for His people that must include teaching, encouragement, exhortation, correction, and training from His Word and His people. And we need direct, personal interaction with both of those things.

God has given His Word to be read, studied, meditated upon, understood, memorized, obeyed, and lived out. Yes, we live in a time when we have all kinds of access to the Bible through hard copies, websites, and apps, as well as books about the Bible like commentaries, devotionals, and more. But reading and studying the pure Word of God is what we need most and consistently.

We also need consistent and intentional connection in a local church. We need relationships with other believers and solid teaching from the Word. Mark Dever clearly explains the importance and value of the local church:

The church is the gospel made visible. . . .The church is the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12, 27; Eph. 1:22–23; 4:12; 5:20–30; Col. 1:18, 24; 3:15), the dwelling place of his Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16–17; Eph. 2:18, 22; 4:4), and the chief instrument for glorifying God in the world (Ezek. 36:22–38; Eph. 3:10).

Yes, prayer is vital, and reading books about biblical truth can be extremely helpful. But this woman is not in the Word, and she isn’t in the regular fellowship and teaching of the local church. Just as a the mom in that first scenario wasn’t making sure her daughter was getting the sleep she needed, we cannot ignore or give up on an area of life God shows us is necessary for our good and His glory. We can’t expect partial nourishment—even if it’s good nourishment—to fuel us for all the circumstances and relationships in our lives.

Self-Focused Feelings

Second, this woman is focusing on her feelings about God, not on God Himself or her relationship with Him. She has a more self-focused perspective of her circumstances instead of one that’s God-focused. While she feels the sting of loneliness and the weight of busyness, she is ignoring what God has gifted us with to combat those things—the Bible and the local church.

Every human is both marked with God’s image and marred by sin. In His great mercy, God made a way through His Son, Jesus, for we marked, marred humans to be His daughters and sons when we, by faith, see our need for His salvation. By faith and faithfulness, we can then live in response. God’s mercy continues as He gives us His Spirit, His Word, and His Church for all the circumstances and relationships of life.

But are we pursuing those things? All of those things? As obvious as it may have been to see that seven-year-old girl’s need for sleep along with care, food, safety, and education, is our need for the well-balanced life God has designed for us as evident?

May I say with all sincerity and desire for your good as well as my own . . . it should be. God has offered what we need, but it is essential for us to pursue and take hold of those things. We cannot expect one or some to be sufficient. We need God’s complete plan for living life. We need His Spirit, Word, people, ways, and attitude to shape our minds, hearts, attitudes, and actions.

Completeness Illustrated

Over and over again, throughout both the Old and New Testaments, the kind of completeness I’m talking about is illustrated through the lives of individuals and groups of people. I admit that I have said, “There it is again!” out loud during my own personal Bible study time, as well as a few sermons and teaching settings as I spot the heart, mind, attitude, and action combination in verses like these:

“[He] fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (Deut. 8:16–18).

“I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart” (Jer. 24:7).

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name” (Ps. 91:14).

When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth” (Prov. 4:3–5).

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might” (Dan. 2:20–23).

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world” (John 4:39–42).

But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also. I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Cor. 8:7–9).

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete (1 John 1:1–4).

The Word of God. The Holy Spirit. Prayer. Truth. True and purposeful relationship with other believers. We are offered these things by a loving, sovereign God who knows what we need for our minds, hearts, attitudes, and actions to be more like His. Let us pursue true completeness in and for Him.

What steps are you taking in this new year to allow God’s Word, Spirit, and people to shape your mind, heart, attitude, and actions? Leave a comment below with what you’re asking God for grace to do in 2019.

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About the Author

Heidi Jo Fulk

Heidi Jo Fulk

Heidi Jo desires to know and live God’s Word, then teach and challenge other women to do the same. Heidi and her husband, Dan, live in Michigan with their four children and she leads women's ministries at her church.

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