Christian Devotionals

"I Do Have Plans for You"

As you may know, I've been battling cancer over the past year. As one may expect, this can toss your routine, plans and life into an uproar. Once everything somewhat settled down, I listened for God's voice to comfort me, sustain me and direct me. Our ministry would no longer be able to perform the high energy routines that we normally do. This included original dramas, puppet shows and other forms of Christian entertainment. Instead God seems to be using me to minister to people who are suffering from illness, emotional problems or enduring spiritual battles. My prayer has been for the Lord to use me as He needs me. As a result of these prayers, I've been given many opportunities to witness to believers and unbelievers alike through this illness. So many people are following "my story" and many marvel at my faith and attitude through all of this. Sure I've had my share of weak moments, but overall I've maintained a good attitude and have been able to help people. Most importantly, I'm trusting in God to work out this whole situation for His glory.

With all of that said, I've been feeling like I'm in a slump these past few weeks. It's like I'm not accomplishing anything worthwhile. And each night I've been having dreams that I'm back in the corporate world, where I was before full-time ministry. It was a refreshing change to be involved in business dealings, traveling to far away countries and interacting with former professional colleagues and friends. In all the jobs that I've had, I really made a difference. There were tangible contributions made and I experienced the satisfaction that came along with it. I'd awake from these dreams only to find a messy house that needs cleaning, the prospects of my three teenagers fighting (when they finally got around to waking up), and another day of not feeling used by God. Financially, we're also in a little slump and this just added to my feelings of uselessness. The enemy really started to fuel this fire and continually reminded me of my uselessness. "You have no purpose Joe, you're all washed up. Just what exactly is it that you do anyway? .NOTHING! It's time for you to just go away and die."

For a moment I would entertain death - you know, stop chemo - but that wasn't an option. A big part of me longed to be back in the business world, but I knew that this wasn't an option either. First, who's going to hire a 48 year old guy with stage IV cancer? Next, why would I give up on God and the ministry of "Faith, Hope, Love & Laughter" after all we've been through. So I began to plead with the Lord for direction and opportunities. "Lord, what is my purpose? Use me!" Days and weeks passed with no answers or opportunities. Then one night at the close of our weekly healing service, God spoke to me in a big way. As the people gathered around me to pray for my healing, I began to pray to God silently. "Lord, am I washed up? Do I have a real purpose. The devil is having a field day with me. Please let me know that you plan to use me . that you have a plan for me." As if right on cue, the lead prayer person spoke out. "Lord we know that you have a special plan for Joe's life. You didn't give him all these gifts just to bury them in the ground. You have plans to prosper him and not to harm him. Use Joe in a mighty way." The man praying next to him said, "Lord I'm astonished. He's saying all the things that I was about to say . word for word. You do have a great plan for Joe's life. This is only the beginning, help him to realize those great plans of yours."

Wow, this was one of those rare occasions when there was an instantaneous answer to my prayer. God spoke to me through those two men and assured me that my life had purpose and that He was acting out His plan through me. Maybe you are feeling a little useless and without purpose. Take it to the Lord and ask Him to reveal His plans for you. Our Creator has a wonderful plan for each of us, but we need to be asking and listening. As for me, I'm still waiting for the doors of opportunity to open, but I know that they will. God is with me and He has a great plan that is unfolding as I write this. Our future is bright in Christ and He has wonderful and meaningful work for us to do. Ask Him about it and be ready to step out in obedience when He answers.

8 The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me;
Your love, O LORD, endures forever —
do not abandon the works of Your hands
Psalm 138:8 (New International Version)

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