I’m not much of a planner. By that I mean, I’m usually good with having a general idea of what’s going to happen, and letting the details work themselves out. This drives my detail-oriented friends and family crazy. Sorry guys.
Even with my fairly laid-back approach to planning, though, my feathers can still get pretty ruffled when the plan gets changed, by someone or something other than me. I’m like, hold up now…that’s not what we talked about. We had a PLAN.
I had a plan for 2018. We were going to get back into foster care this summer, a school-aged girl who could share my oldest daughter’s room and go to school with her, our son would go to half day preschool, and the baby would go to MMO or something so I could have a little time for work. It was going to be neat and tidy (as much as foster care can be) and convenient and good.
Then, on New Year’s day, no less, we had a pretty big surprise- a positive pregnancy test- and the plan went right out the window. Don’t get me wrong, I believe with all my heart that every life is a gift, and we are so thankful. But it took me a little while to get over the very sudden, and very huge, change of plans. (Add to that the fact that I haven’t quite recovered emotionally from the trauma of my last birth and have had a ton of anxiety. I’ve had to layer the gospel pretty heavy on that too…but that’s a whole other blog post.)
As I grieved my plan and worried how things would work out with this new development, someone asked me, what are you believing about God right now? Was I believing that his plans are good, even better than mine? Was I believing that his heart toward me and my family is good? Was I believing that he is in control and that this was not a surprise to him? Was I believing that he will provide for us, just like he always has?
The answer was no. I was believing that my plan was better, that God isn’t in control, isn’t looking out for me and that I must figure all this out on my own. Of course, thanks be to God, none of that is true.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Here’s the thing about our plans- they don’t often involve hard things. Yes, we may set challenging goals for ourselves. But the point of a plan is generally so that things go smoothly. When difficulties arise, they catch us off guard. They’re not “part of the plan.” Depending on what we believe about God, these hiccups can either throw us for a serious loop, or we can take them somewhat in stride, knowing that our lives are ultimately in God’s loving hands. I confess, I didn’t take the change in my plans in stride, not even somewhat. Thank you, God, for your grace toward my unbelieving heart.
But these “hard things” that God calls us to do, as much as we don’t want to do them, are such gifts. In the thick of the struggle, we may not see it, but God is faithful to teach us to depend on him and his strength, not our own. It is an opportunity to press deeply into the truths of the Bible and the promises God has given to his children.
Through these hard things, God is also giving us stories. In the Bible, the Israelite people had several feasts throughout the year to celebrate what God had done for them. They would look back and remember specific times God had delivered them. Each of us has stories too. We have times in our lives where we doubted and struggled, but God delivered us. When we face trials again, we can look back on these times in our lives and be reminded of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and provision. He has proven himself over and over and over. Will he not do it again?
And your stories aren’t just for you. You will almost certainly have a friend or loved one who, in the midst of a trail, will question God’s plan. They will wonder if he’s going to come through, if he really has his hand on our lives. In these times, you can walk alongside your struggling friend and share with them the times God has provided for you, even in times of doubt. Your stories can point them to his goodness on our behalf.
Let me be real with you- I still have moments of thinking, how am I going to do this? I still get scared. I still sometimes question if God really knows what he’s doing. But I always have a choice to either let my fear and doubts rule me, or to take my thoughts captive and remind myself of what I know to be true- God IS good, he IS in control, he DOES love me and his plans ARE better than mine. You have the same choice. I pray we choose trust.