by Rev. Lloyd S. Wicker
The 1998 film, Simon Birch (based on the novel A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving), is the story of a 12-year-old boy named Simon who, despite his physical handicaps, believes God has a plan for his life. Simon was born tiny and with an abnormally small heart and not expected to live.
Simon was a disappointment to his parents and the target of many childhood pranks because of his miniature size and odd-sounding voice. Simon had every reason to question his self-worth and purpose for living. But by embracing his condition, he believed that God would use him in a unique, possibly even heroic, way.
At one point Simon asked the small town minister, "Does God have a plan for us?"
Does God have a plan for us? That is a question that I suspect many ask this time of year. The month of June brings a lot of excitement. Summer is near. Graduations are taking place. What happens next? Will more education be part of the next step or will I be able to find the job I'm hoping for?
The prophet Jeremiah has some words that have brought me great encouragement in the past and still do today. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:11-13 New International Version)
When I first read these words as a child they gave me tremendous comfort. They gave me the freedom to surrender my own plans (or lack of plans) and fears to the Lord. All of a sudden it wasn't so important that I have the perfect plan but rather that I submit those things to the Lord and seek his will for my life. God's promise to allow us to prosper doesn't necessarily mean we'll be monetarily rich. Rather, he promises "shalom." That's a Hebrew word that means "to be complete; full." He offers to his children hope and future, or put another way, he offers his children a hopeful end. There is no doubt that such a promise meant a lot to those to whom these words were first written. Even though life was difficult for them, they were assured that God had not abandoned them.
How can one claim these promises today? It begins with surrender of our plans. Once we surrender our own plans we must be willing to submit to God's plan. With that kind of heart God promises that when we seek Him we will indeed find him.
The world told Simon Birch he wouldn't amount to anything. He wasn't expected to live much less do anything significant. But Simon knew something those around him didn't know. He knew God had a plan for his life. The same classmates who ruthlessly teased him owed their lives to him after he sacrificed his own life to save them from their submerged school bus. And the impact this boy had on their lives was something he never knew during his short life on earth.
Simon knew God. Consequently, he was certain God would use him to carry out His plan. Why? Because he lived his life constantly seeking God and God's plan for his life. You can live with that confidence too when you entrust your life and plans to Christ as well.
• Rev. Lloyd S. Wicker is a pastor at the Sunnyside Christian Reformed Church. He also serves as chaplain for the Sunnyside Fire Department.