July 8, 2018
Text: Jeremiah 29:11-14
Song: God’s Plan by Drake
As we continue our All Request Summer Song Series I remind you of the rules. If the older generation gets to pick the songs meaningful to them in their youth, the younger generation gets to pick the songs meaningful to them now. If Elvis and John Lennon – the musical superstars of their day – are fair game, so is Toronto born and raised rapper Drake – one of today’s most popular musicians.
God’s Plan, debuted by Drake at a party last New Year’s Eve, instantly became a huge hit. He shot the video in Miami, whose glitz and glamour frequently provide the backdrop in rap videos. Drake’s video goes in an entirely different direction. And his song leaves us pondering whether God really does have a plan for our lives and what that might actually mean.
God’s Plan, Drake style, seems to be for Drake to be able to cruise through Miami’s poorer neighborhoods and drop nearly $1,000,000 in cash.
As Drake raps he begins to tell his story. The story of a not so perfect kid, a kid for whom movin’ calm, keeping it peaceful, can be a struggle. A kid who doesn’t much like mornings. A kid who wants to be noticed, to be loved, to have his story told.
A kid who finessed down Weston Road – the Toronto thoroughfare connecting the poorer neighborhood where he grew up with the neighborhood where he moved his mother after getting a role on the hit Canadian youth drama Degrassi when he was fifteen.
A kid who now goes hard on Southside G – an expressway along Lake Ontario connecting the clubs, bars and night life.
A kid who grew up poor but can now make sure northside – the poorer section of town – eats.
And then like the ancient Psalmists (Drake’s rap can, in some ways, be considered a Psalm) he talks about his enemies. His enemies wish bad things on him – but they can’t touch him. He’s living God’s plan.
God’s plan isn’t all perfect:
- There’s a woman – possibly the mother of his son – who loved him but he didn’t love her back.
- His close friend and fellow Toronto rappers Anthony “Fif” Soars was brutally killed last fall.
- His beloved Raptors got robbed by the LA Lakers in a spectacular game where Kobe Bryant scored 81 points
Its all God’s plan. Drake is still blessed.
- So blessed when a technical glitch ruined a concert at London’s O2 arena, Drake could refund everyone’s ticket.
- So blessed he has his two good friends and musical collaborators – his “broskies” next to him.
All part of God’s plan. God’s plan for Drake to make it big, to rise from poverty to wealth through a mix of talent, persona and work ethic.
Is Drake really living God’s plan? Honestly I don’t know. Does God even have a plan for Drake’s life? Does God even have a plan for our lives? And finally we’re at Jeremiah 29:11-14, our scripture passage for the morning:
READ JEREMIAH 29:11-14
How comforting to know God has a plan for each of us. A plan for our welfare and not for harm, for a future with hope. Unfortunately Jeremiah’s prophecy isn’t for us. It’s for Israel, the exiled nation, the nation punished by God but still held in God’s favor.
Scripture never promises individualized roadmaps for personal success. God may not have a plan, but he does have a deep desire to abide in his creation, to become one with those he lives. “Abide in me,” Jesus tells his disciples, “as I abide in you.” Experience my love in you, so that you might love as I love, love as God loves. Abide with me and you will reach your full potential, bear lasting fruit, fruit grounded and rooted in God’s love.
God also calls us into vocations and relationships. He gives us the gifts to live out our calling, to find and make blessings through relationships. Somewhere between our gifts and our vocation we find a vague plan, A divinely given sense of who we are and what we’ll be most fulfilled by doing. We find a spiritual belonging enabling hope, confidence and security in even the most adverse situations.
But there’s no AAA Trip-tik or step by step instructions delivered by a soothingly voiced Siri. There’s no predestination so rigid as to control what neighborhood we grow up in, what job we get, what our family is like, our health or lack thereof. If we just do everything right or pray hard enough scripture promises neither wealth nor prosperity.
If we do everything right, if we pray hard enough, we receive not a plan but a deep sense of belonging in God. A belonging constantly threatened, constantly buffeted, constantly challenged by our own desires, our fellow humans’ long standing desire, to make lives for ourselves far from our God, lives leaving us empty, lives causing harm, even death, to our neighbors.
Instead of following a plan we navigate a tension between the immense potential and blessing of a life lived in Christ and the suffering brought upon us by our sins and the sins of a combined humanity. Our savior Jesus Christ navigated this tension. Those who follow in his footsteps have long accepted suffering as part of the equation. We suffer from the sins of the world just as Jesus suffered – possibly more so for we suffer not only from the sins of others but from the consequences of our sins as well. But we persevere in hope for we know God’s desire for oneness – for healing and renewal, for recreation, for resurrection, transcends all.
Mysteriously, seemingly magically, as we achieve oneness with God, we find life becomes easier to navigate. Does that mean we’re finally following a plan? Or do we just become more atune – to ourselves, our gifts, our vocations, our calling, our place in the world and the graces we bring to it?