The Best Laid Plans
by Steph Beth Nickel
Have you ever made extensive plans only to have them go sideways?
I know I have—and I’m pretty sure the same is true of you.
Isaiah 55:8-9 gives us some insight as to why this is. These verses say, “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” (ESV).
I know there are many reasons our plans don’t work out the way we intended, but I am certain God is involved and will keep His promise in Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (ESV).
I remember one incredible summer several years ago. Our finances were beyond tight and we really didn’t know what the future had in store. But I had spent hours in God’s Word and prayer and I could honestly voice the following realization:
Lord, if we have to be on the verge of bankruptcy for me to remain this close to You, then please keep us there.
Humanly speaking, we would rather avoid unemployment, illness, and broken relationships. But these and other struggles can result in tremendous spiritual growth. This is why the Lord commands us in James 1:3 to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”
He goes on to say, in verses 3-4 to say, “For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
As Christians, we believe this on one level, but we find it hard to “count it all joy” when our plans crumble at our feet. It’s easier to look back and rejoice after we’ve seen how God was at work in the situation. But what if we could look ahead with confidence, knowing God will fulfill His promises?
Last weekend I left my hubby in Toronto for a weeklong stay. He was to have two hernias repaired (which he did). I had plenty on my To Do list and had no idea I would begin to miss him before I even left the clinic parking lot.
I am not typically a worrier and don’t mind sleeping alone, but that first night I woke us from a very troubling nightmare and was not at all impressed. (It might have something to do with reading a mystery novel before bed, but we won’t talk about that.)
What did the Lord bring to mind? That I ought to pray for those going through far more challenging circumstances: a lady who just lost her husband of many, many years; a relative in her late 30s who is dealing with throat cancer (and she’s never smoked a day in her life); friends whose marriages are in serious trouble …
Will God work these situations out for good? He will.
Does He use things I wouldn’t have planned to bring about His purposes in my life? Absolutely.
As His child, you can rest assured that He will do the same for you.
And as we make our plans, let’s do so prayerfully, asking God to have His way in our life, knowing His plans are higher than ours.
God’s ways are higher than ours. (Click to tweet this.)
Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.
Very timely, Stephanie! And not just because September = new planning. I’ve been praying a lot recently for God to use the unpleasant things that are too much a part of certain situations. Thanks for this encouragemenet.