I have been a bit dazed this week, recovering from a planned weekend away that seemed to go horribly wrong. I live three thousand miles from my parents who are in their eighties. Since I saw them four months ago, my mom’s health has spiraled downward. MY PLAN was to travel with my daughter Kara (because of my own health issues) to spend three days with them. I especially wanted to encourage my dad and visit other family in the area.
Everything seemed to be going well as we visited my parents that first morning. However, a quote from Allen Saunders, author of the comic strip Mary Worth, reflects my perception of what occurred when MY PLANS were dashed:
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
When we left my parents after lunch, we had every reason to anticipate two more days of visiting and encouraging them. However, that is not what happened. Hours later I got sick with something I probably picked up on the plane and never got to see them again. I wrestled with the craziness of it all; after all, I had such good intentions! I wonder even now, will ever see my parents alive again?
HOW we deal with disappointment and discouragement depends very much on our perception of what “LIFE” is. The questions are straight forward:
- Is LIFE random? a series of unrelated, quirky, circumstantial, out-of-control events?
- Or is LIFE actually God working out His Perfect Plan in the Universe that He created?
- Not only that, if LIFE is actually God working out His Perfect Plan in the Universe, will we choose to trust Him more when our plans seem to go wrong?
That is the question we all face when LIFE doesn’t seem to make sense and OUR PLANS run amiss.
Are you a planner like me? There’s nothing wrong with planning. In fact, I believe our penchant for planning is a reflection of our Creator–the Ultimate Planner. Planning provides order and structure to our lives as it helps to better utilize the time He has gifted us with. But what do you do when what you planned is interrupted and goes in a totally different direction? The cry of Job in 17:11 reflects this quandary when his perfectly ordered life was interrupted by the despair of loosing his children, his wealth and his health in quick succession:
“My days have passed, my plans are shattered,
and so are the desires of my heart.”
For Job, a dark evil seemed to have taken over that seemed to shatter his world, robbing him of whatever hopes he had for the future. Have you known such disappointment? Are you wrestling with something right now that has snuffed out the hope that belongs to all who trust in the light of Christ our Savior?
Consider the insight gained from Psalm 33:8-11 regarding the motivation behind the plans God has for His people:
“Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the people of the world revere Him.
For He spoke, and it came to be;
He commanded, and it stood firm.
The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of His heart through all generations.”
Do you see it? The purposes that reflect God’s HEART for His own (His Perfect Plans) are being worked out in the seeming crazy quilt of LIFE. God’s HEART involvement assures His own that His motivation is to draw us closer to Him as our gentle Shepherd. The thing is, this cannot happen unless we are willing to trust Him with our hearts. I love the way this is so beautifully reflected in Jeremiah 29:11-13 as God encourages us to yield our hearts to Him as we trust in His Plan for our lives,
“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. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. “
As I reflect on my visit with my parents, believe it or not I marvel at God’s kind provision for us. My mom was somewhat wakeful so she knew Kara and I were there. It was a sweet time to talk to my dad and to share a beautiful lunch with him. In fact, the light in the dining room was so perfect that I took pictures (when normally I save taking pictures until the end of a visit.) Little did I know how much those pictures would mean to me when I was not able to go back!
LIFE. Is it all random happenstance? I think not. Looking back with eyes of faith I see blessing that abounds from the heart of our Ultimate Planner. How about you?
All To His Glory!