I am a planner. I’m not an over-scheduler; not a stuck-in-the-details micro-manager; not a there’s-only-one-way-to-do-it control-freak. But I am a goal-oriented, work-your-plan achiever. I like having a plan, something to aim for and a strategy to go with it. And, if I’m honest…I really, really like it when things go according to my plan; especially when it’s something big or important.
Can you relate?
It brings me comfort to have things go my way. I know the outcomes, and I’m ready for them. There are no surprises that catch me off guard. No questions left without answers. No bumps in the road. Smooth and steady, all according to the plan. MY plan. I feel equipped, prepared, completely on the ball and in control.
So where does that leave room for God?
The truth is — it doesn’t. And (confession here) maybe I AM a little bit of a control freak, too. (sigh.)
The other important truth is this: I can’t control everything, and it’s simply too much, WAAAAY too heavy and cumbersome to even try. I am human, and as such, I was created with a need for God. It’s part of my DNA, put there by my Creator himself, so that I would long for and come to Him. He WANTS to help me through this thing called life.
He has also set eternity in the human heart; (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrew 4:15-16)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
So why on earth do I attempt to orchestrate my life (and the lives of my children too?!) Why do I not consult Him first – every time – to understand and follow His will for my life?
Humanity is a funny thing. So is pride. Not funny – ha ha, but funny – curiously stupid. And repeatedly so. (Ugh!)
But God (I love when Scripture begins with this – there is always something wonderful that follows!) in His great love and patience for us, uses these instances for our good. He allows our mistakes, our control-freaky decisions, our very lives and experiences to teach us and to draw us closer to Him. We can trust that He works ALL things for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28) It all flows through His fingers with a steadfast love and commitment to our good.
So, when things don’t go according to my plan, I need to remember that the story is still being written. He’s not finished with it (or me) yet, and when He is, I can rest assured that what I may have originally thought went “wrong” will ultimately turn out to be BETTER than I had expected, or it will be REDEEMED for my good.
I must cling to who He is: the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (Revelation 22:13) What does that mean for me? His view is extensively larger than mine. It spans ALL of time. I need to trust what I can’t see, realizing it’s all still within His sight and knowledge. This is the very essence of faith; confidence of what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
In hindsight, I can see His goodness and presence so easily in my life in so many situations that have been redeemed, restored or that turned out so much better than I had planned or anticipated. Although life is far from perfect, I have been guided, comforted and graced through some extremely difficult situations including abandonment, unhealthy relationships, a failed marriage, infertility, miscarriage, isolation, career shifts, family difficulties and more. I have had and continue to have much confirmation that when I draw closer to Him, He draws closer to me (James 4:8)…and I feel it. Exponentially.
I must continually remind myself of these truths, because my flesh is weak and my feeble memory forgets so quickly; leading me back to depend on my own control, my own limited view and my own feeble plans for a “perfect” life. HA!
As I write these words, I do so partly to remind myself, as I know I need; partly to process, so my mind and heart can gain clarity and absorb; and partly to share any value that this may be to others. This is an important exercise for me; one of discipline, surrender and trust, in many ways. It’s a difficult sharpening I actually crave; especially now.
In just a short time, our family will be embarking on a new journey…but not quite as together as I had planned. (And, hear me when I tell you how much I love “together.” It’s truly one of my greatest joys of life.) Per my son’s request, we will soon be sending him to a military boarding school for his eighth-grade academic year. He will no longer be under my own roof, nor available for the daily carpool chats to and from school, nor here for the quick hugs when nobody’s looking, nor making frequent requests for back-scratches, milkshakes or favorite foods (all of which I love doing for him.) My momma heart grieves and selfishly cries out, that’s NOT what I had planned!
And yet…my thirteen-year-old stands firmly and confidently in his request.
I know this is what I want to do with my life, he says. I want to start training now. I understand how it works, even the hard parts, and it’s still motivating to me. I know I can be successful, and I believe it’s part of God’s plan for my life.
Yes, these are all actual words he spoke to his Dad and me. Direct quotes, as if he has been listening to God speaking to his heart and is ready to do the hard thing; excited to take on the very discipline he knows he needs at this point in his life, but has been fighting against in every other form and fashion. He is begging us to go, and we’ve never seen him more motivated. Ever.
So, after MUCH prayer, processing and yes, tears too, I am letting go of MY plan for his life and allowing my son to bravely chase his dream, all the while trusting that the Lord remains Sovereign over all. He has known and loved my son all along (even before me!), even before he was in my womb. He has great plans for my young man, who has always carried himself and spoken with a noticeably unusual boldness for his age.
The Lord is going to do something very special with him. His Dad and I, his teachers and many friends have stated these exact words about him through the years. He’s always been a little different, and his untraditional ways continue. I should have been on the lookout for an untraditional path, versus the much more traditional plan I had been following. Finally, it took his beautiful blue eyes, looking into mine, begging me to let him fly and asking me to let go and just trust that this will be good for him.
My plan now is a much better one, I believe. I will launch my son in mid-August, and I will trust fully in the Lord and what we believe to be His provision and guidance for our son’s life. This doesn’t mean we stop parenting, but it does mean we need to increase our level of surrender, faith and trust like we never have before. We won’t see him as often as we’d like. We can’t hug him whenever we want. We won’t be able to catch the latest great movie together, and I will wish every day that I had his back to scratch the way he loves.
What we will have, though, is not a plan, but a God who is GOOD; a God who remains consistent, trustworthy and abounding in grace. He always has been. He always will be. His character, timing and love are perfect. Complete perfection. Unlike my own plans, I’m reminded.
So, I’m going to choose to be thankful, genuinely hopeful and optimistic. We’re no longer following my plan. We’ve let that go, and we’re letting the Lord lead the way. My son, too, will learn the value of submission while he’s at military school. I hope we all carry with us the lessons learned when we submit to the One who loves us most. One day I’ll realize that’s the only plan that works. I see this more every day, and I pray my son does too.
Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. (Psalm 143:10)