"You can make many plans, but the LORD'S purpose will prevail." Proverbs 19:21 (NLT)
I'm a planner by nature. I like my little purse-sized calendar and mapping out the foreseeable future in those little squares. I particularly love the end of the year, when I can go calendar shopping and spend an entire afternoon writing in a new year's worth of birthdays and events.
I know. I know. Some of you just don't understand. But keeping a calendar and making plans does something for me - someone who craves order and consistency and being prepared.
I believe there is value in having plans and giving some thought to tomorrow (Proverbs 6), but as the verse above also reminds me, sometimes God has purposes which are different than my plans. So, while I make those plans, I have to hold them loosely.
God has certainly been teaching me this lately.
Mostly because of this.
I'm currently recovering slowly from my second surgery in two months time - two rather unexpected surgeries. The second, which was definitely NOT on my calendar.
According to the well-thought-out plans our family had made for this home assignment time, instead of being in the hospital or laid up in bed, during the past few months I should have gone to the symphony to celebrate my birthday, attended parent/teacher conferences at my kids' schools, visited the pumpkin patch, and taken part in our sending church's missions conference (which I had been looking forward to for months and months).
But most of all, if I hadn't developed a severe infection that required a second surgery, right now, I should be a typesetter. You see, for months and months I had been planning and preparing and studying to spend the past three weeks in Dallas, Texas, receiving training to becoming a typesetter for our branch. With both my kids now in school for full days, I've been looking for a role within our organization that would be a good fit for my skills and personality. Typesetting kept coming up, and an opportunity arose for me to get training while we were back in the States, so we wrote it into our home assignment plans.
God, however, had a different purpose for me, for my family. God said, "No" or "Not yet," to all of those aforementioned plans. I didn't celebrate my birthday like I had planned. I didn't take part in missions conference. I'm not trained to be a typesetter.
Though missing out on all of those experiences has been difficult on different levels, God has brought me to a place of peace where I can say, "It's okay." And I praise Him for that!
I have learned through this ongoing trial that often I do hold my plans with too tight of a fist. I'm often wound too tight, letting myself get stressed when I simply need to release it all to Christ's capable, All-Knowing Hands.
Sometimes God uses trials like the one my family and I have experienced to teach us to trust Him even when we don't know why we're experiencing a difficult season. He wants us to lay down our plans on the altar, believing that His purposes are best and that He WILL work everything out for our good.
So, today, even though it's uncertain whether or not I will realize my goal of becoming a typesetter for our next term and even though I won't be able to "get back" some of the furlough experiences I had hoped to have, I can rejoice. Though there has been pain and disappointment, I have received so many other blessings from the Lord that I wouldn't have received without walking this path.
I have felt the Lord's presence and His peace in such a new and fresh way lately. I have learned to appreciate resting and "being" even more than I did before. I have seen an outpouring of prayers and support from family and friends around the world, which blesses me to the core. I have seen the body of Christ in action as people have cared for our family in various practical ways. I have so much for which to thank God!
I still love my little calendar, and I'm still looking forward to buying a new one here in a few weeks, but I've learned a valuable lesson on trusting and holding loosely to all my plans and desires. His plans are always perfect. His purposes will prevail.