This is a post from my blog The Wonder Years, based on a message I gave at my church for Christmas in December 2007. I hope it encourages you this Christmas season!
If you are anything like me, you have a plan for your life. Maybe you've had that plan for your life since you were twelve years old… Something like: you would to college, meet the man of your dreams, get married, have 2.5 children, 2 girls and one boy (a boy first, of course), live in a nice 4 bedroom house with a pool in the backyard, have 2 cars (at least one SUV), your husband would make enough money for you to stay home with the kids for a few years (if not forever), and you would live happily ever after. Remember that game in junior high called M.A.S.H.? You would get so excited when it would land on all the choices you wanted, and you secretly hoped that the game would work and life would turn out that way.
Now that I am older (and hopefully wiser!), I have realized that I don't know one person whose life has turned out as they had planned. Most of my friends are believers in Jesus Christ, and have followed him most of their lives. We have dedicated ourselves to following God's will for us and obeying him. Yet when things don't turn out as we planned, we all have something in common. Many of us start to wonder, "where is God?" "why is this happening to me?" "has He forgotten me?" The thoughts start out to be rare. They pop in here and there, we rebuke the questions, we keep reading the Word, and we try to have faith. But as the days go on, and our situation doesn't change or gets worse, we struggle more. The thoughts start coming more frequently "doesn't He care?" "maybe He's not even real!" we dare to think. We repent for our unbelief, we confess our lack of faith. But the days continue to go on. Our situation doesn't seem to be changing. In fact, it seems to be staying this way. And we secretly begin giving up on God.
We may not even realize we are doing it. The acts begin almost unnoticeably, but we start trying to take matters into our own hands. "This wasn't the plan!" we think, and so we begin damage-control. We start trying to fix things, to clean things up, to make things look pretty from the outside so that nobody will notice. Instead of praying and reading the Word, we begin researching how to change our situation. We fill our days with searching, talking, phone calls, consultations. These things make us feel like we are moving forward somehow, making our situation better than it was.
I think of Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was between 13-15 years old, just living her life. She had a fiancee', she was loved, she was being taken care of by her parents… all was well. But in the blink of an eye, her situation changed. And it was not what she had planned. She didn't know that:
- She would be a pregnant teenager.
- She would almost loses her fiancee'
- She would be publicly disgraced & ridiculed
- She would leave her home and go to live with her cousin Elizabeth for 3 months.
- She would have to travel 70 miles when she was 10 months pregnant, on a DONKEY, no less!
- There would be nowhere to go when she started having contractions
- That she would have her baby in a barn – probably on hay- ouch!
- After a year or two, she and her family would have to run for their lives to Egypt because Herod was trying to find her baby and kill him.
Through it all, we don't read of Mary complaining or saying, "Why Me?" or "This wasn't my plan!" Instead, when she arrived at Elizabeth's house, knowing what was ahead, despite her fear, she broke out in praise and thanks to God.
What is my response when things don't go as planned?
- When I lose my job and can't find one for months
- When the doctor tells me I can't have children
- When one of my loved ones finds out she has cancer
- When we lose our house for financial reasons
- When my spouse leaves me for another person
- When I still don't have a boyfriend or husband after all of this time
- When I find out I need major surgery
- When one of my kids has a disease or disorder
Do I try to take things into my own hands? Do I try to "show God" how to handle matters and just do them myself? Do I give up on Him and His plan for my life, and just re-arrange things so they'll go my way from now on? Faith is not easy. It is a long road that often takes us down a path we did not intend to tread upon. Many times faith requires us to go the opposite way of what we presently want to do. Faith requires us to go against our need to control, and leave the control up to the Lord. Yet when we give him control, and rest in His care, knowing that he is responsible for the outcome (not us), our faith will be strengthened, and we will be blessed.
God's plan in ALWAYS better than ours.