One of my children is a planner. And by this I mean, A PLANNER. It’s rare that she doesn’t have her plans written down for the week… and every week from now until she graduates in 2024, for that matter.
So it came as no surprise that she spent this summer planning out her upcoming fourth grade school year. Yes, that’s right, she spent the summer planning for school.
For me, the words summer and school go together just about as well as a black sharpie and a white couch.
Nevertheless, she had it all planned. The outfit she would wear on the first day. Who her teacher would be. Which friends would be in her class…and where those friends would sit. Including a detailed seating chart. A seating chart!
Her dad and I are very much looking forward to saving money on a wedding planner in the future.
But the days of summer are short and before we knew it a postcard arrived with the name of her new fourth-grade teacher. It was a name she didn’t recognize. It was not who she planned. Ouch.
She was desperate to call her friends to see who their teachers were. And guess what? Not one of them was in her class, in fact, they were ALL on the opposite side of the hall.
“But what about my seating chart?” she mumbled, tears starting to fill her eyes.
There it was: the sting of disappointment.
It’s safe to say we’ve all felt that heaviness at one time or another when things don’t go quite as we plan. And during the course of our sophisticated planning sessions, it’s so easy to forget, or neglect to give enough weight to, the One that shapes our course.
How many times do we tell ourselves that if I can just control the situation then I can fix it? How many times do we think we know what is best for us?
We think we know what will make us happiest. False.
We think we know what we want. Wrong again.
The Lord knows what is best and whatever He designs is for our benefit; sometimes we just can’t see past our own discouragement.
Jonah had a plan of his own. He ran. He fled. He disagreed. He jumped ship.
Now The Word Of The Lord Came Unto Jonah The Son Of Amittai, Saying, “‘Arise, Go To Nineveh, That Great City, And Cry Against It; For Their Wickedness Is Come Up Before Me’. But Jonah Rose Up To Flee Unto Tarshish From The Presence Of The Lord, And Went Down To Joppa; And He Found A Ship Going To Tarshish: So He Paid The Fare Thereof, And Went Down Into It, To Go With Them Unto Tarshish From The Presence Of The Lord.” Jonah 1:1-3
But of course he did not get very far on his own. God redirected him by way of a great fish to the place God called him to be. Jonah thought that he could thwart God’s plans by running away. But God would not let him. God’s plans cannot be thwarted.
Has God taken you down a road you never would have willfully chosen?
Are you in a place you never expected to be?
Proverbs 16:9 brings into vision just how we should both plan, and at the same time, lean upon the Lord with strong faith. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”
Maybe God is directing your current course because…
You need to be in that environment.
You need to be around those people.
You need to be sharpened and affirmed.
You need to be challenged and encouraged.
You need to let go, and let God.
Even though my daughter’s meticulous plan was changed, God is using this season to shape her life like never before. It is exactly where she needs to be, and her teacher is who she needs for this exact moment.
And the same can be said for you today.
Friend, God hasn’t deserted you. He is not mistaken. He hasn’t forgotten you. He knows exactly what He’s doing. He knows exactly what you need and where you need to be. Trust in Him completely and the “things of God” will lead to life-giving plans.
God may change what you had planned, but remember to look for his blessing of something new and unexpected. While the pain of loss can be very real, God is sovereign and His grace is sufficient to carry us into His next steps.