We can have our own plans all set and tidy in our minds, but sometimes God has something different–but better.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)
I thought it was all settled.
Why shouldn’t I? We had made this important decision several years ago. And from that moment on, we carefully mapped out what it would take, planned each step, and determined what should happen next.
And so, over the next four years, our son worked diligently toward the Big Goal while we, as his parents, did whatever we could to support him in his efforts.
Our second-to-youngest son had thoughtfully picked out the college of his choice and studied hard to qualify. Therefore, you can imagine how enthusiastically our family cheered when he found out he’d been accepted at last—even earning an academic scholarship!
But then, just like that, in a few short days, it all started to fall apart.
A Change of Plans
At first, it was an unexpected change in the financial situation, but that was only the beginning. Then our son had several – rather inspiring – conversations with a church friend who introduced him to the idea of another interesting and challenging career path.
Before I knew what was happening, our son announced that he’d changed his mind about going to college and wanted to try something new. Something entirely different from anything we’d discussed over the past four years.
I attempted to smile when he informed me of this dramatic change of direction. You know, trying to keep the “encouraging, supportive mom” thing going. But between you and me, I wasn’t smiling on the inside. On the contrary, I felt a pit in my stomach at this last-minute pivot.
Nearly sickened at the thought.
However, you should understand that this was not some spiritual sickening. My concern wasn’t about our son not following God’s plan for his life. This struggle was about him not following my plan. And I knew it.
Convicted, I had to turn to the Lord, open my motherly heart, and unclench my hands to release this child. Once again. One of those parenting moments where you must decide what you want more—your own beautiful plan for his life . . . or the Lord’s.
I say “parenting moments” because that’s what it was in this particular situation. And maybe you’ve found yourself in a similar place as you raise your children. Or perhaps it’s not a parenting moment, but a church moment, a family moment, or a friendship moment. Then, that unexpected “plot twist” you didn’t see coming, and things aren’t going according to plan—at least not according to your plan.
Oh, friend, this can be so difficult to comprehend or accept. Heartwrenching even.
And while we might not understand all the reasons behind a change of plans, one thing I do know: we can trust God to carry out His purposes in their lives, as well as our own.
This is the moment to unclench our hands. To let go of our plans and look to God for His. Then experience the inexplicable peace of trusting Him for the future.
In His Word
You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)
I tend to (mistakenly) believe that I’ll have peace when the future unfolds the way I envisioned it. That all will be well when my dreams and plans come true. But this is not what Scripture tells us. Instead, we’re told that we will enjoy perfect peace when we keep our eyes on our Heavenly Father and trust Him for whatever lays ahead.
In Your Life
Have you experienced disappointment when life has not gone according to your plan? Maybe you’ve faced unexpected circumstances or encountered uncooperative people. Perhaps you didn’t even realize you had a plan . . . until it didn’t work out.
If so, here are three things to help you through some of that disappointment.
- Go to the Lord in prayer and share your grief and frustration. Then unclench your hands and let Him know that going forward, you will put your trust in His plan.
- Write down in a small notebook (I often use these) what your expectations were, how they didn’t work out, and how you will trust God going forward.
- Confide with a close friend and ask her to pray for you. Don’t underestimate the power and blessing of a praying friend!
As a mother of eight children, I’ll admit this isn’t the first time my “plans” for my children have not worked out exactly the way I’d envisioned. Maybe you can relate? If you’re looking for help and encouragement, my husband and I wrote these short, practical books for parents: 100 Ways to Love Your Son and 100 Ways to Love Your Daughter.