We Had Plans!

by Andy Wood on September 19, 2012

in Enlarging Your Capacity, Five LV Laws, Insight, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Eternity

Sheriene Harris was looking forward to her dad coming to stay with her.  Then the two of them were going to take her son to football camp in the summer.

They had plans.

Instead, her father, age 70, had a urinary tract infection and needed to go to the hospital.  There he had a massive heart attack and died.

“I felt that he had so much more life to live,” Sheriene said.  “God, what happened?”

It didn’t make sense.

“All I kept saying to God was, “WE HAD PLANS!”

Apparently God had other plans.

What do you do when your plans collide with God’s?  Especially when your plans are noble, life-affirming, loving, or even kingdom-building?

  • A youth pastor goes hiking alone in a canyon not far from where I live.  He dies in a tragic fall.  He had plans.  Did God plan to cut his life short for no reason?
  • A pastor’s wife and her daughter are involved in a terrible auto accident.  The daughter lives; the mother dies.  They had plans.  Did God plan to traumatize a family and a church?
  • A young man and his family move in faith to a completely new place to plant a church.  For reasons that defy all their expectations, the church never makes it.  He had plans.  Did God plan for one of His local churches to fail?

Regardless of the logic of our plans, the motives (altruistic or otherwise) for our plans, or the level of detail in our plans, we tend to approach our plans with a bit of reverence.  And we expect the universe to line up and agree.  That’s why, even though we know that “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” we’re still a little offended when they do.

Yes, I know you planned for your daughter to go to college.  She had other plans (or no plan at all).

I know you planned to succeed in business.  The market had other plans.

I know you planned to see your children’s children.  That cancer had other ideas.

And let’s just get it out there:  None of this is fair if the only lens we see it through is our own intentions.  We’re not talking about plans to hurt people or take advantage of them in some way.  These aren’t plans do to evil.  They’re just our expression of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  And we’re all entitled to that.

Right?

Lord of Broken Hearts and Shattered Dreams

But sometimes our pursuit of happiness makes an unseen wrong turn – often through no fault of our own.  And we’re left with death, bondage, or pain.  But those who know their God are left with one other thing:  the loving(!) presence of the One who could have stopped it, but didn’t.

Are you disappointed with Him?  Angry?  You certainly aren’t the first.  Yet there He is, in the midst of your shattered dreams and broken heart.

Holding you.

Healing you.

Loving you in ways you would never know under any other type of sky.

A Perspective You Don’t Have

When I’m driving, I sometimes have, um, “help” from the other side of the vehicle.  Sometimes that’s actually helpful.  But at other times, especially on freeways, passengers can’t see what I can see in the mirrors.  I can’t “just hurry up and pass that guy” because someone’s coming up in their blind spot.  Or sometimes I have to floor it to fit in with the flow in the passing lane.  And my passengers just have to accept that I can see what they can’t see.

The same is true when our plans collide with God’s.

We see the immediate disappointment.  He sees the long-term destiny.

We see what we were prevented from.  He sees what we were protected from.

We see the loss of potential.  He sees gloriously new potential we never imagined.

We see the pain set before us.  He sees the joy set before us.

Sheriene again:

God ministered to my heart and informed me that it was his time to go and although I had plans, it was not in God’s plan.  I realize that His plan is so much more important and crucial to my spiritual walk than I could imagine and although it hurts, I must conform to God’s will for there is a plan and purpose beyond my thoughts. 

Can You Trust Him?

It’s here, in the losses or the disappointments, that your faith is called on to stand and deliver.  Can you trust God to have a better plan than yours when the loss of your plans hurts so badly?  Elisabeth Eliott, who knew stings most of us can only imagine, puts it this way:

“If God, like a father, denies us what we want now, it is in order to give us some far better thing later on. The will of God, we can rest assured, is invariably a better thing.”

Can you trust God to be powerful for you, even though He saw fit not to exercise that power in the way you wanted Him to?  Ed Litton, the pastor I mentioned above who lost his wife, says in his beautiful essay, “Disappointment with God,”

Life must be dreamed, planned and engineered to the best of our ability. This is the responsibility of every believer. What we cannot do is fight the Lord’s right to a deeper or broader plan that governs the affairs of His children. We must hold to the knowledge that our lives are but a mist, or we’ll be consumed with disappointment in God and with life itself. We mustn’t slip into a twisted logic that pushes God away as impotent.

Gaining a Heart of Wisdom

In recognizing the eternity of God’s life and the shortness of ours, the psalmist prayed, “So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  Chuck Swindoll paraphrases this,

“So cause us to know how to assign significance to our days so that we may gain the ability to see life as You see it.”

Your days are significant.  And so are your plans.  But neither have the perspective you need until you accept that you are not God, and there are no guarantees.

There are, however, opportunities beyond today’s disappointment.  There is hope beyond this lifetime.  There is wisdom available to guide you through the days ahead.  But most of all, there is the faithful presence of a great God who has already carried all your griefs, sorrows and disappointments.

And you can trust Him.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Martha Orlando September 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm

His ways are not our ways . . . oh, how I have seen my plans laid to waste only to discover later on the greater and grander plan God has for my life. In the face of tragedy, this was no picnic for me. There was suffering and anger, sorrow and pain. But, looking back, the Lord cradled me through it all and never allowed me to lose hope.
He has placed my feet on a broad place . . .
Thank you, Andy, for this terrific inspiration.
Blessings always!
Martha Orlando´s last blog post .." . . . When You Move, I’ll Move; I Will Follow You . . ."

Andy Wood September 19, 2012 at 11:17 pm

“But, looking back, the Lord cradled me through it all and never allowed me to lose hope. He has placed my feet on a broad place . . .”

I love that, Martha! Thanks for sharing and encouraging, as always.

Troy Legrand September 25, 2012 at 11:36 am

Awesome truly awesome. Thank you for that post. He is truly in control.

Andy Wood September 25, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Thank YOU, Troy, for the encouragement!

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