Plans Change. God Doesn’t.

My trip was cut short with one phone call. I needed to get home…and quickly. Thanks to quick thinking (and fast, safe driving) friends and compassionate airline customer service, my husband and I flew across several states and made it to the hospital within hours.

We thought we had one more day of vacation. We didn’t, and it was okay. We needed and wanted to be home immediately.

We didn’t know our plans would change. God did. He was not surprised.

People generally like control and dislike surprises. But when we rely on our control or avoid surprises, and especially when we expect God to work within our comfort zones, we distort the truthfulness of who God is.

He is in control.

He is sovereign.

He is certainly not surprised. He is consistent. he is not confined by time, so He sees what’s coming that we can’t see. We can trust Him even when we are caught off guard.

Everything doesn’t have to work in our timing to be “okay.” Some stuff is overwhelming, painful, uncomfortable, and beyond what we can handle. But nothing is beyond what God can handle.

When our plans change, we can trust that God does not.

God’s Travel Policy

rebookIf you travel much, you know about change fees you incur each time you rebook a flight, rental car, or train ticket. The policies of various carriers differ, but there is usually some kind of penalty for changing your plans. (If you’re one of the people who have traveled so extensively you now have an account that allows you to rebook without a cost, keep in mind you had a lot of bookings and rebookings to get to that point, so you’ve likely “paid” for that status!)

Consider God’s rebooking policy. When you choose to travel using God’s plans, there is no rebooking necessary. He’s the best trip advisor. He knows the best itinerary, time schedules, layovers, delays, costs and benefits. When you continually check with his plan and stay on track, you’ll be where you need to be. That doesn’t mean everything will go smoothly. You’ll encounter many challenges along the way, because that’s how this life on earth is. We don’t live in the perfection of heaven yet, so we can’t expect it on earth.

If you choose to deter from God’s plans, no matter how off track you get, you can always run to him and ask him to rebook you on the next rerouting back to his plan for you. It might not look exactly like it would have had you followed the original itinerary, because he must weave your changes and choices. But, after all, he already knew how you would detour from his plan, so he had the best plan in mind anyway. Rebooking God’s plan is a bit costly, no matter where along the process you choose it, because it requires you give him something very valuable: yourself. It’s okay. He’s the best travel companion, and he never deserts you.

Dig into God’s Word…

Jesus answered, “The things I teach are not my own, but they come from him who sent me. If people choose to do what God wants, they will know that my teaching comes from God and not from me. Those who teach their own ideas are trying to get honor for themselves. But those who try to bring honor to the one who sent them speak the truth, and there is nothing false in them.” (John 7:16-18)

But we are hoping for something we do not have yet, and we are waiting for it patiently. Also, the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us with deep feelings that words cannot explain. God can see what is in people’s hearts. And he knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit speaks to God for his people in the way God wants. We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan. (Romans 8:25-28)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. These are the ways of the world: wanting to please our sinful selves, wanting the sinful things we see, and being too proud of what we have. None of these come from the Father, but all of them come from the world. The world and everything that people want in it are passing away, but the person who does what God wants lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

Live It Out Loud…

Look at your calendar for the upcoming several days. What needs to change to match God’s agenda? Consider how much you’ve planned based on your own preferences and responsibilities and before asking God for his preferences and responsibilities. The two often match up, but don’t assume what you want—just because it’s consistent with who God is—is what God wants. The content of what’s going on might be God-guided without the timing being God-guided. Don’t proceed and ask him to cover the steps you’ve already taken. Ask him to guide the steps you need to take next. Change at least one thing in your schedule for the next several days; choose something you’re not positive you chose because of God’s guidance.

I Want to Do What You Do!

whereyouare

“How do I do what you do?”

How many times have you asked the question, thought the question, or heard the question? Aspirations to grow into something else aren’t bad in and of themselves, but we often miss what God has for us right where we are when we focus on the “next, great thing.”

When people ask me how they can start traveling and speaking at women’s events, how they can publish a book, and so on, I can give them a few practical tips but the bottom line advice is “Do what God has planned for you today, because it’s your preparation for tomorrow.” God prepares us in ways we cannot imagine. None of us get to our today via a straight line series of our yesterdays. Of course, we know a common thread is woven through the twists and turns of our yesterdays, but we likely couldn’t have predicted where our experiences were taking us. I couldn’t have planned to do what I’m doing today. In fact, even when people ask how I got to where I am as I travel around, I can’t really give them a clear answer…except that God led me here.

And God is leading me somewhere else.

I don’t know where that somewhere else is. I don’t know what it entails. I don’t know if it will be similar to what I’m doing now or drastically different. But I’m certain that what is going on today will not be wasted. God uses it all. When I get to a tomorrow somewhere down the road, I might be able to look back at my current todays and make a bit of sense of them, but it certainly won’t all make sense.

It’s certainly okay to have goals, but if you become too focused on future goals, you will miss out on the experiences God has planned for you today. You will begin to look for those things that fit into your expectations and ignore or avoid others. Before long, your will might just eclipse God’s will in the way you approach your daily life.

If you believe God is calling you into something, doesn’t it make sense that he will provide the way, including the timing? And wouldn’t it make sense to trust his way instead of trying to make sense of it on your own?

You might look at someone else and what to do what they do, but remember her today isn’t your today. Her tomorrow isn’t your tomorrow. You can’t replicate someone’s journey. You have your own, and no one else can take your place. If you choose to focus on anything other than where you are and what you’re supposed to do right now, you’ll miss out. And when you miss out on something today, you’re not quite as prepared for tomorrow.

What is God prompting you to do where you are…today? Get started!

Content to Stay Put

Is what you’re currently doing keeping you from doing something better for God?

It’s easy to get comfortable on the couch. Perhaps what you’re doing is difficult work. Perhaps it’s sacrificial. It’s likely worthwhile. You might have felt led by God to do what you’re doing.

But is it what you’re supposed to be doing in this season of your life? While there are often common threads throughout your life, the details frequently change. When we’re growing, our lives change. Sometimes there are big changes, and sometimes the changes are more subtle, but change will happen as you grow closer to God, seeking and responding to his will.

Consider how Naaman was unwilling to get outside his comfort zone. He was the commander of an army. He was mighty and brave and had great respect for God. He wanted to be healed of a skin disease.

Elisha sent Naaman a messenger who said, “Go and wash in the Jordan River seven times. Then your skin will be healed, and you will be clean.”

Naaman became angry and left. He said, “I thought Elisha would surely come out and stand before me and call on the name of the Lord his God. I thought he would wave his hand over the place and heal the disease.The Abana and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, are better than all the waters of Israel. Why can’t I wash in them and become clean?” So Naaman went away very angry.

Naaman’s servants came near and said to him, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, wouldn’t you have done it? Doesn’t it make more sense just to do it? After all, he only told you, ‘Wash, and you will be clean.’ ” So Naaman went down and dipped in the Jordan seven times, just as Elisha had said. Then his skin became new again, like the skin of a child. And he was clean. (2 Kings 5:10-14)

Naaman was asked to do something out of the ordinary. God’s response wasn’t what he expected it to be, and he didn’t like it.

How have you expected a particular response from God but was given a different solution or path? Perhaps you missed the best solution because you were so intent on what you thought the provision or guidance from God would be.

You don’t have to be a spiritual superstar to be required to get out of your comfort zone. If you’re a Christ-follower, you will be asked – required – to get out of your comfort zone. If you were allowed to stay right where you are, what kind of faith would you develop? Just because you stepped out of your comfort zone once to get to where you are doesn’t mean you’ll get to stay there forever. God is concerned about your relationship with him, not your comfort level. He wants you to trust him through every curve, turn, detour and shortcut.

So, how is God prompting you out of your comfort zone? You might not recognize it right away. You’ll need to ask him to soften your heart and sharpen your senses so you can hear and see him more clearly. Know your comfort zones, and consider the following possibilities.

  • Walk across the room to talk to someone you would normally  ignore.
  • Invite your neighbor over for coffee or a meal.
  • Take a co-worker to lunch.
  • Support a new worship service or small group at church because it reaches people unlike you (which is why you don’t like it).
  • Respectfully ask your pastor a question about an application of Scripture he teaches, because you sense a caution it’s being misapplied.
  • Say “no” to yet another year in the same ministry so you can explore another ministry about which you’ve felt a stirring passion or interest.
  • Reduce your hours at work (and make financial adjustments) when prodded to spend more time with your children or aging parents.

God wants you off the spiritual couch. Move. You’ll thank him in the long run.

People may make plans in their minds, but the Lord decides what they will do. (Proverbs 16:9)