Have you ever made the perfect plans? Plans that were so flawless in theory that you even impressed yourself. It took you days, maybe weeks, to consider all the possibilities and parties involved. You made sure everyone was accounted and accommodated for. The schedule was tight and every minute was packed to the limit but if everyone stuck to the plan, it would work perfectly. You emailed it out and copied everyone that needed to be made aware. You followed up with the important people to ensure they understood your email and even doubled back to over communicate. The plan was set. The schedule and itinerary was established. All you need now is execution!
But then the unthinkable happens! Someone is late and someone else decided to drive their own car. The baby gets sick and messes up her brand new outfit. There is accident on 1-85 and the GPS says it is going to be a 35 minute wait. All that planning and preparing is ruined! All that time spent is wasted! You get frustrated and frazzled (which is just a nicer way of saying you’re mad!). You get short with your spouse and snap at your children. This is not what you had planned!
I am sure some of your heart rates went up just reading that hypothetical situation. We have all been there and know the helpless feeling of being out of control. That is the whole reason we made the plans in the first place, so that we could control as much of the narrative as possible. Every aspect that we could troubleshoot, we did. However, even after all our planning, situations like these remind us of our limitations. So before you get too agitated, let’s pause and take a moment to reevaluate what is actually happening when our plans are upset.
You confessed as a child of God that your life is not your own. You are the sheep of His pasture and He is your good Father. However, in moments such as this, we assume He is distant and without compassion. We quickly conclude that if He truly loved us, He would have ensured our plans went off without a hitch or mishap. That the flawless execution of our carefully constructed schedule would have been a sign of His favor and divine will being accomplished in our lives.
I would like to submit another possible conclusion for your consideration. What if the change of plans was a sign of God’s providence not His carelessness? Maud Manohan penned these words about Mother Janet Stuart, the well-known nun and educator from London, England in the book The Life and Letters of Janet Erskine Stuart….
“She delighted in seeing her plan upset by unexpected events, saying that it gave her great comfort, and that she looked on such things as an assurance that God was watching over her stewardship… she was joyfully and graciously ready to recognize the indication of God’s ruling hand, and to allow herself to be guided by it.”
Wow! So instead of becoming anxious and fretful when her plans were derailed; she delighted and found comfort. Not some superficial, shallow optimistic outlook on her circumstance masking the frustration she actually felt. The change of events literally encouraged her faith and brought an awareness that God was in her midst and had greater and higher plans. She submitted to the change and acknowledged God’s hand in redirecting her path.
One instance where this truth is found in scripture is in Mark 5. Jesus is compelled by a synagogue official named Jairus to come to his house because his daughter was very sick and close to death. While on the way to Jairus’ house, a woman who had been suffering with a hemorrhage for 12 years came near to Jesus and touched His clothes by faith. Jesus stopped and began to heal and speak to the woman. Most of us may know the end of the story but imagine if you are Jairus and your daughter is at the point of death. You made the perfect plan to get Jesus’ attention and get Him to your house. However, on the way your plan was averted. While Jesus talked to the hemorrhaging woman, Jairus receives news that his daughter is dead. His plan was perfect but unexpected events happened and now his daughter is dead. Jesus still insisted on going to the house. When He arrives, he removes everyone from the room except a few disciples and the little girl’s family. He then speaks to the young girl and says “Talitha kum” meaning “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” Jairus’ plan was to see his daughter healed, however, his plans needed to be thwarted for the purpose of God to be accomplished. Jesus’ purpose was different. He saw a lady healed and a young girl raised from dead. Jesus’ purpose was better than Jairus’ plan.
Maybe next time the plans change be intentional about looking for God’s hand. It may not be a disturbance but rather God’s leadership. It’s okay to sometimes not be in control!