God loves you and he has a wonderful plan for your life. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this statement. Not only is it the beginning of “The Four Spiritual Laws” developed by Bill Bright and used by Campus Crusade for Christ, but it is one of my father’s favorite sayings. And it’s true, but not in the way I thought about it in my teens.
When I was younger, I thought that it was my job to find God’s will for my life and then do it. Pretty simple, huh? At 17 or 18, I would sort out what God wanted me to do then just proceed along that plan. And this fit with my tendency towards organization and control. Remember, I was the college student who made study schedules and stuck with them! That was the way my life was going to go. I would go to medical school, become a doctor, get married, have kids (above-average, of course), etc.
But life, apparently, doesn’t always go according to plan. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the last few years trying to figure out what God is trying to teach me with the headaches so I can learn the lesson and get back on the plan. After all, I “knew” what God wanted from me, and these headaches are just getting in the way. I “need” to get rid of the headaches so I can get back into God’s plan!
But maybe not. Could the headaches actually be the plan? Could my pain be part of a larger picture – one that I can only see a fraction of? Could God have allowed these headaches into my life for a reason – and maybe not even a reason to do with me?
I think about the apostle Paul. Did he have a great plan for his missionary journeys that were derailed by his being taken to prison? How did he feel when he was imprisoned? After all, it’s hard to go around planting churches when you’re stuck in jail!
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. we were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts, we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us . . .” 2 Corinthians 1:8-10
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ;s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
I have grown up a lot since high school and college. I now understand that God’s ways are higher than my ways. And that complete surrender to God and His plan is my goal. There are many days (like today) when I can’t see the path in front of me. My normal goal-setting ways are becoming more and more flexible. I have learned that following God’s will involves taking the next step every minute of every day. It means obedience in whatever task is in front of me.
Planning and goals are not wrong, but true faith in Jesus means that we can “roll with the punches” because we can trust that following Jesus is always the right thing to do, even when it doesn’t fit with our life trajectory. When our weaknesses are exposed, we become stronger by trusting in Jesus for every bit of strength that we need.
- I started this post two days ago, but didn’t finish it until tonight because of a two day raging migraine. This is one of the times when I find that I have no strength. My only sustenance is Jesus (although the ice cream didn’t hurt!). I still don’t understand why this is happening, but I know that God is bigger than my migraines, yet still cares enough to love me through them. And the Christmas decorations will get put up eventually – LOL!