Devotion and Discipleship

When life doesn’t work the way we plan

Have you ever had to give up on a dream?  A plan for the future that defined who you were?

I have.  More than once.

It’s hard.

  • I was going to be an overseas missionary.  But the board lost my application.
  • I was going to be an English teacher, but couldn’t find an opening.
  • I was going to be a worship leader, but things changed at our church.
  • I was going to home school my daughters, but had to work to make ends meet.

But the hardest was just this year, when I was already living my dream.

I was homesteading on a little acre in the country, with my own chickens and orchards and a massive veggie garden.  I loved it and had plans to teach my children the virtue of hard work and the joy of agriculture.  I was going to  retire there.

And then God moved me to a condo in the city with only a a tiny flower garden.

God has a plan.  It’s not usually ours.

Did you know King David had his heart set on building the temple of worship for God?

God said no. (II Samuel 7).

Paul was going to stamp out heresy in the name of God!

God said no to that, too. (Acts 9)

Moses was living his dream, with a comfortable life, a family, and a job out in the country, before God sent him to confront a king (Exodus 2-4)

Samson’s plan was to get married and live a life of ease.  God’s plan was for him to protect the Israelites from the people who were oppressing them. (Judges 13-16)

Hosea’s plan was to speak God’s word to the nation of Israel.  God’s plan was for him to live the words by marrying an unfaithful woman. (Hosea 1)

Jonah’s plan was to bring God’s word to the people of Israel.  God sent him to their wicked enemy instead. (Jonah 1-4)

Martha planned to cook dinner.  Jesus planned to visit with her. (Luke 10:38-42)

Peter and John planned to fish together.  Jesus made them leaders of a new spiritual movement. (Matthew 4: 18-21, Acts 4)

Mary planned to honor Jesus with a proper burial.  Jesus planned to honor her with his presence. (Luke 24John 20)

It’s how we handle God’s “no” that makes all the difference

Giving up my homestead was hard.  I cried a lot.  And I was rather grumpy about the whole thing for a while until I realized I was being unfair to my husband.

But once I decided to trust God’s plan, my family quickly realized that this move was the best thing for us and new ministry opportunities and friendships began to open up.

I have experienced what the Bible teaches: that those who embraced God’s plan, like David and Paul and Mary, experience the joy and purpose and fulfillment that only He can give.

You see, King David could have been angry or resentful. Instead, he prayed gratefully to God for the promise that one day David’s son could build the temple.  He put together all the plans.  And he spent his time securing the borders of Israel, which meant by the time Solomon built the temple, it was not at risk of destruction from warring tribes (II Chronicles 8-9).

Paul’s profound contribution to the formation of the Christian faith is incomparable to any others.  And he expressed joy and fulfillment in his role. (Philippians)

Mary was blessed to be the first person to see Jesus risen from the dead.

Moses got to talk to God in person regularly!  But since he resisted when God told him to be His spokesperson (Exodus 4:10-16), the nation of Israel suffered from the sin of idolatry (Exodus 32)

Meanwhile, the tales of Samson and Jonah and Martha are cautionary, reminding us that…

resistance to God’s plan for us does not thwart His plans for the world, but it deprives us of purpose and joy.

We are not forced to obey God.  We can say no and go our own way.

Or we can go kicking and screaming like Jonah and sulk when God blesses other people.

Or we can embrace God fully, like Paul and David and Mary, and experience the joy and purpose that only comes from being in obedience to and relationship with the Creator.

What about you? 

Have you experienced the painful loss of a dream?  Have you experienced the fulfillment that comes from trusting God with your future?

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