God Has Other Plans for Us

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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In the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, I was with the exiles at the Chebar River when the heavens opened and I saw visions of God. (It happened on the fifth day of the month, in the fifth year after King Jehoiachin’s deportation. The LORD’s word burst in on the priest Ezekiel, Buzi’s son, in the land of Babylon at the Chebar River. There the LORD’s power overcame him.) (CEB)

Ezekiel 1:

The first three verses of Ezekiel introduce us to the prophet and his unexpected calling. In verse 1, Ezekiel explains the context of his divine encounter. It happened when he was thirty years old. Ezekiel was in Babylon with other Jewish exiles. They had settled along the Chebar River, which was, in all likelihood, an irrigation canal. There, Ezekiel states, “I saw visions of God.”

The next two verses were added by the anonymous editor of the prophecies of Ezekiel in order to help the reader understand more about the prophet and his peculiar calling. We learn that Ezekiel was a priest, the son of Buzi. We also learn that the word of the Lord “burst in” on him and the Lord’s power “overcame him” “in the fifth year after King Jehoiachin’s deportation,” which would be 593 B.C. (see 2 Kings 24:8-17).

It would be easy for us to miss an ironic and moving element in this introduction. Ezekiel, as a priest, would have had the extreme honor of serving in the temple in Jerusalem. No doubt he spent much of his young life looking forward to this opportunity. In fact, he would have been eligible for priestly service when he turned thirty years old. But his hopes were dashed because he was exiled to Babylon during the time when he could have been serving in the temple. It’s not hard to imagine Ezekiel’s disappointment with how his life turned out.

Yet God had other plans for Ezekiel. When the priest turned thirty, the Lord began to reveal fantastic visions to him. God spoke to him and told him to pass on this word to his people. Ezekiel would have the chance to serve God in a most influential and difficult way, as a prophet of judgment and hope.

God has plans for each one of us. Sometimes these plans line up with our expectations. But, often, they surprise us. We have plans for our life, but God may have other plans. And his are always the best, though they might come in the midst of disappointment, and though they might lead us into greater challenges than we would have chosen for ourselves. God wants to use you for his purposes, even as he once used Ezekiel. How will you respond to his call?

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Indeed, how will you respond to the call of God on your life and work? Are you willing to hear what God wants you to do, even if it’s not what you were expecting?

PRAYER: Almighty God, when I think about Ezekiel, I wonder about his disappointment in not being able to serve you as a priest. That which would have been the pinnacle of his life and career, was chopped down by the oppressive power of Babylon. I wonder if Ezekiel was angry with you for abandoning him along the Chebar River, so far from Jerusalem. I wonder if he cried out to you to use him somehow.

You had great plans for Ezekiel. Not easy ones, to be sure. But you chose to use him in a way that was far greater than anything he would have imagined. Through the priest who was never able to serve as a priest, you spoke mighty words of judgment as well as hope. Through Ezekiel, you prepared your people for the day of restoration and resurrection. And, through Ezekiel, you do this very thing for us today.

Help me, dear Lord, to be open to your call in my life and work, even and especially when it isn’t what I would have imagined or wanted. I know your ways are the best, Lord, best for you, best for the world, best for me. Amen.