Yeah, right. Of course you have a plan for me, Lord!
As I sit here writing this blog on the eve of my procedure to inject my eye with dye, am I worrying that the cancer has returned, or am I thanking God for His provision and opportunity for true hope and a future?
I choose the latter. You see, although my life has had its fair share of physical, relational and loneliness challenges, I am persuaded by the words in Jeremiah 29: 11: ‘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’.
It’s all about perspective. Taking a moment to reflect on my 51 years on this planet, I am truly overwhelmed by God’s grace, love, compassion and desire to grant me life and life to the fullest.
I think back to a time when I was an 18-year-old motocross racer on the start line, along with 35 other riders, waiting for the gate to drop. I heard the voice of God challenging me about my life and giving it over to Him. I didn’t have a clue about the ‘plans and purposes’ God had in store for me, but I knew I needed to surrender my life to Him. I did, and the adventures began!
Not long after that, I was presented to the Queen as ‘young business leader of the year’. There I was, bowing down and nearly head butting her majesty. I felt like Mr Bean. Prince Phillip was smiling as I shared with him a story about our journey down to London and the car catching fire. I couldn’t have made it up!
It is important to remember that God’s ways are not ours. When we truly give ourselves over to Him, He declares for us a ‘plan to prosper and not to harm’.
Whether it was running a business, managing professional snooker players or, now, leading a church of over 1000, this has been the rich tapestry unfolding as my life. However, I could have opted out of the adventure by asking, ‘If You are God, then why?’ ‘You had me diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 30; how could You allow that when Your plans are supposed to be “to prosper me”?’ Still, God knows the plans He has for me, and I chose to trust Him, no matter what.
I had to change my thinking to His kingdom thinking. You and I are ‘treasured’, ‘planned’ and ‘purposed’ in Him.
So, I face today, and every challenge that comes my way, with an assurance and history of a life that God has never left or forsaken. I prosper in Him and am never harmed, as I am certain of my future in Him.
Just in case you were wondering, six years ago, I had a CT scan that showed no signs of multiple sclerosis. You should believe in miracles – I do. You are one!
Richard Cooke (Cookie) is the senior leader of Barry and Tina’s home church, the Bridge Church, Bolton, Greater Manchester. Cookie is a great support to Barry and the team.