Browse the Christian aisle at any bookstore or look at sermon titles from big-name pastors and there’s a good chance you’ll find some of the following words: purpose, calling, plan.
Many Christians are taught God has a unique plan for their lives and a purpose just for them.
But after moving to L.A. (a place he calls a “city of broken dreams”) to plant Zoe Church a few years ago, Chad Veach realized that many Christians have come to a place in life where they believe they missed that plan.
Veach wrestles with the question of what happens when things aren’t going as planned in his new book Faith Forward Future. It’s a question anyone whose life didn’t pan out like they thought it would has likely found themselves asking.
We recently spoke with Veach about what the Bible says about our individual callings, what to do if we’ve veered off of God’s plan for our lives and the misconceptions too many Christians believe about their “callings.”
Q: YOU’VE RECENTLY EMBRACED A MESSAGE THAT CHALLENGES WHAT MANY CHRISTIANS BELIEVE ABOUT PURPOSE AND CALLING. WHAT IS IT THAT WE’VE GOTTEN WRONG?
A: I think the easiest way to simplify [it] is to say, “Stop holding on to your history at the expense of your destiny.”
So many people are holding on to their past and are rehearsing things that God forgot about a long time ago. So they’re punishing themselves for things, and God is like, “I will remember your sins no more.”
I don’t think that God has a plan B for any of our lives. He’s not on the fly like, “You messed that up, so now I have to change my plans.”
God has a plan no matter what we do. God has a plan no matter what our behavior or sin or failure is. It doesn’t change His heart toward our lives.
Q: FOR SOMEONE WHO THINKS THEY REALLY MESSED UP AND THAT IT’S TOO LATE, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THEM?
A: I don’t think any of us can go too far out or too far away from God’s grace.
I heard someone say that God’s view doesn’t change the way He sees your life, but people’s opinion, that’s what changes. We hold so much weight on what man sees and their opinion, so we think God feels the same. But He doesn’t.
It doesn’t matter how far you’ve gone—God [stayed] faithful to Peter when he [denied] Him.
I think it’s hard for us to wrap our mind around the idea that in spite of how bad I am, God still loves me and has a plan for my life.
The majority of people are not convinced that there’s greatness on their life. I don’t think a lot of people are feeling like they’re called to do these great things for God. That’s why you have to go to God. And once you have a relationship with God, He starts to open your eyes a little bit, and you start to see that you can actually make a difference in other people’s lives and that He wants to do something in and through you.
Ephesians 3:20 [talks about] the idea that God is able to do things exceedingly and abundantly—far above anything we could ask, think or imagine.
Most people can’t imagine or think that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
Q: WHEN WE READ ABOUT TERRIBLE THINGS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD THAT SEEM LIKE THEY ARE OUTSIDE OF GOD’S PLAN, PEOPLE START QUESTIONING WHY GOD WOULD ALLOW SOMETHING LIKE IT TO HAPPEN. WHAT WOULD YOUR RESPONSE BE?
A: God did not do that. We live in our own fallen universe. We live in a world with a sinful nature and free will. That’s why the hope of heaven is such a great idea. There’s no more sickness or sorrow or suffering there.
We calm fear by declaring who God is in His word and His promises. And everyone goes, “Oh yeah, God said this would happen. Oh, right, this is not my home. I’m going to be good.” That’s the comfort, and that’s what God does. He revives us.
He said His Word will heal us. It’s a lamp unto our feet in the midst of dark- ness. That is our greater citizenship. I think right now we have an opportunity to get people’s hopes up to a greater place. This is not our home.
If we don’t have those truths, then people get very lost.
Q: IT SEEMS LIKE THE REASON A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE TROUBLE WITH THE IDEA OF GOD’S PLAN FOR THEIR LIFE
IS BECAUSE THEY THINK THE PLAN IS A DESTINATION. CAN YOU EVER REALLY BE OUT OF HIS PLAN?
A: That’s just it. We see “plan” as destination, geography, occupation. It’s not.
The only way to discover God’s plan is through following His Son, Jesus. And as you follow, His plan unfolds—that was one thing that became very evident. The ultimate plan is just following His Son.
We think the plan is an office with a corner view or X amount of money or X amount of followers. No. God’s plan is His Son. So that’s why we need faith and Jesus to move forward.
Jesus called me out of my addiction, out of my cynicism, out of my failure. What is the future? None of us know, and the future could change.
The plan is not doctor, lawyer, teacher, pastor. It’s not. The plan is in His Son. And the adventure in that takes faith and risks.
Q: WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST REVELATION YOU HAD THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS?
A: I couldn’t stop this thought: God really has a plan for every single person.
The more I studied it, the more I understood that the gifts and callings of God are irreversible.
We think that we messed up God’s plan, so surely He can’t still be committed to us, but the more I study these Scriptures, the more I realize that God is so committed to our lives even when we’re in our worst place.
I live in a city of broken dreams. And for most people here in L.A., they’re like, “This is not what I envisioned. This is not what I planned. It’s broken.”
I think that’s a huge space for God to walk in and say, “I’ve got a better plan.” Proverbs 16:9 says, “Many plans does a man have in his heart, but the Lord directs his steps.” I get excited that some- one could say, “OK, I made it. I’m going follow Jesus and see what happens.”
Jessica Stephens is a freelance writer living in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her terrier, Buffalo.