Saturday, December 22, 2012
When Life Doesn't Go as Planned
Nothing is going like planned.
Life wasn't supposed to be like this.
At age fifteen I planned on going to college to be a school teacher. I planned on living in the same small California town I grew up in. After having Cory, getting married, and having more kids, I planned on settling down in the (somewhat) larger California town that we lived in. John would get a good job. We'd buy a nice house. I'd homeschool and maybe write articles on the side. And maybe someday write a book. But nothing went as planned.
We felt God's stirring to move to Montana. We moved and God pointed me to stories that would be impossible to write in my own strength. The church He directed us to wasn't one I'd pick (at first). The friendships He orchestrated took me out of my comfort zone. And getting involved in started a pregnancy center...that wasn't in the plan at all.
At least we found a place to settle down for good. At least we had a nice house. Our house. We had our best friends close, a church we loved (after we realized we weren't there to be served but to serve), ministries we believed in and enjoyed, money to meet all our needs. The plan then was for our children to finish school, get married, live close and give us lots of grandkids I could spend time with. Then the plan changed. God made His plan known. You'd think I'd get used to my plans being changed. I wasn't.
MY plan for our lives in this new city 2,000 miles away was to replace all we left behind, yet once God moves you out of your comfort zone, finding an “easy fit” doesn't become an option any more. Even as I write this my heart aches. It knows what it wants, “Let's just make a plan. Let's buy a house and unpack our things. Let's get organized, set a schedule, and build a routine.” It's the plan I think about every day. It's the one I want most.
You'd think I'd learn by now not to focus too much on my plan. My plan is to make myself—my family—comfortable. God's plan has always been to move me closer to the people who need help and hope. Closer to the issues that break His heart.
If I think about it, deep down—from a young age—I've had another plan, too. To make a difference in his world. It seems that making a difference can only happen when I allow God's plans to be worked out in my feeble body...as I take unsure steps. It's then I look to God more, I depend on Him more. It reminds me of the verse I read this morning:
God is good, a hiding place in tough times. He recognizes and welcomes anyone looking for help, no matter how desperate the trouble. But cozy islands of escape He wipes right off the map. Nahum 1:7-8 The Message
It seems those cozy islands of escape have always been part of my plan. A nice house, a good family, friends and a church close by, work that's fun and impacting (but not too challenging). Teaching Sunday School to three-year-olds is the type of ministry that's right up my alley. I can do that with little effort and lots of rewards. But in the way God works, He's led me to people, situations and even book projects that don't come with an easy-to-follow curriculum guide. Instead of two pages of ideas and instructions, He's the One I have to look to for help, strength and advice.
What it all comes down to is God putting me—and my family—in places where we must look to Him for help. That's been His plan all along. That's the only good plan for sinners in need of grace and servant-children who desire to be transformed into the image of His Son.
And should I really complain? God's plan pulls me closer to the heart of the Creator of the universe who loves me completely and desires to give me a hope and a future. There can't be any plan better than that. There isn't any plan better. I just need to remind myself of that the next time my house, my work, and my life shout out, “We need to get a sense of order here!” Life will never be cozy, at peace, and organized when following Jesus is the most important thing. But the more I lean in, the more I discover that depending on Him is a good, good place to be.