Those who know me well, know I am a planner. I LOVE planning. I love to plan events (when I have time) – taking a vision and creating a step-by-step process in order to make that vision a reality. Nothing gives me greater joy than sitting down with a fresh new calendar and a hot cup of coffee and filling in each little box with the details of our plans.
In Jeremiah 29, it says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. First you will get married, and then you will have two kids and be very rich. You will have a nice house in Vancouver but not too big as to make you proud. Your husband will get an amazing job right after graduation and in no time will become a internationally recognized conductor….”
Wait. Let me double check that…
Right, so it actually says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
I remember listening to a sermon a little while back in which the preacher spoke of the potential idols in our lives – plans being one of them. I chuckled as I whispered to Ben “…definitely not in our lives”. I said that because Ben and I have a really bad track record when it comes to plans. They rarely work out and most of the time we are feeling our way in the dark. I like to use the forest analogy – we are wandering in the forest…but we haven’t been given a map.
One day, we decided to go for a walk in the forest. The forest that immediately comes to mind is Lily Point in Point Roberts, Washington. I have walked this trail many times. The entrance is wide and bright. As we walk there are others on the trail with us. Some are running - alone or with a partner. Others are cycling. They are all decked out in their cycle gear and looking good as they journey on. They are driven, probably on their way to a coffee shop. There are some children playing as they walk, picking up sticks and having pretend sword fights. And still others, saunter, chatting amiably with a friend. As we progress down the path the crowds thin out and suddenly we are on the journey alone. The main wide path veers left while to the right a narrow path emerges. We take the path less travelled. We know the direction it heads, but really don’t know where it will end up. We have no map but we take it anyway. As we go deeper into the woods, the foliage grows dense and we come to a fork. We weigh the options. Both paths are equally dense, dark, narrow and unknown but we feel a pull to the left so we go with our instinct. It turns out to be a lovely path. We come across a sunny grassy knoll beside a fresh water stream, where we sit for a spell and have a bit of refreshment. Then continue to walk until…the path stops. It just ends. Why would we have felt called to walk down this path if it was just going to end? Could it have been that it was just to enjoy what the path had to offer - the stream and the refreshment? Besides, it doesn’t matter because our walk today is not about the destination but about the journey. We are not under time restraints after all, we are just glad to be given the time that we have. So we turn around and find the path we were on and take the alternative route.
We could have easily felt foolish for taking the “wrong path”. After all, aren’t I supposed to have an impeccable sense of direction? But perhaps the error is in considering it, the “wrong path”. Maybe it was exactly the path we were supposed to be on, but the purpose of that leg of the journey was not take us closer to our destination but instead, give us rest and help us realign our priorities and values.
Recently, I have been more intentional about trying to make plans. I would work at the bank, eventually move up and make more money so that we could live a sustainable life…you know, one where I didn’t have to trust God to provide the difference at the end of every month. It seemed like a good plan with a lot of promise. It was a means to an end with an end - with the end being that Ben would be able to pursue his music 100% of the time while living a comfortable life filled with good food and designer clothes. It was a LONG. TERM. PLAN. And I do believe that God was making a way. There were many provisions that were made in making that decision. But what we didn’t know, was that the end we had in mind was not the end God had in mind. And while he took us down this path to allow us to decompress from two years of intense ministry, it was only meant to be temporary. Truth be told, I was not entirely thrilled with the plan we had made. But I had assumed, as I believe most of us have been taught, that in life, a certain amount of sacrifice is an inevitable part of planning. We can’t all have our cake and eat it too. I think my feelings of resignation were quite evident in this post. And I think God knew them too and in order to shake my prudent heart he would have to do something big. REALLY. BIG. A game-changer - something that would cause us to do a complete U-turn so that it would be unrealistic and not logical to continue on the path we were headed. Not something that would relieve our dependency but something that would multiply it tenfold.
To be continued....