The Best Laid Plans of Men...
“Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.”
- Winston Churchill
Things don’t always work out the way you think they will. It’s a statement that I think we can all agree on, eh? We have our best made plans: things all planned out how we want them to happen and then… they don’t work out the way we had intended.
In this light, do me a favour. Just pause for a moment and think about where you were 9 years ago. It’s not an arbitrary number, but I’ll get to that in a second. What was going on in your life? How are things different today than they were then? Has anything changed? Have things worked out in your life just as you thought they would?
Well, 9 years ago today, I was sitting in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) praying over my little girl who had been born 5 weeks earlier than we were expecting. She was having trouble breathing, and my new little family was beginning a month-long journey of travelling back and forth to the hospital, about an hour drive from home. What I had planned to be like a scene from a movie (think 1950’s - where the doctor hands over a little pink baby, and the father hands out cigars!), turned into rollercoaster days of uncertainty, worry and hospital gowns. Carolyn rented a room at the hospital to be near our baby night and day, and I tried to balance being there, while fulfilling my (our) duties at our church. They were really tough days, and certainly not how I planned our first month as parents.
So, with the reflections of that little incubator fresh in my mind, I’m drawn back - and instead of the NICU, I now sit in my dining room celebrating Hallie’s 9th birthday! My happy and healthy little girl is growing up. But even today, things didn’t quite work out like she had planned, and COVID-19 has hijacked her big day. Instead of a party filled with school and church friends, it’s a family day at home, filled with things she likes to do.
All this to say, that things don’t always work out like we plan. This is true both from our personal experiences and from what we see throughout scripture. We are coming up to Easter, and the disciples had a grand plan about what it would look like when Jesus, the Messiah, would institute His kingdom on earth. We see it in how they treat Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The palm branches, the coats on the road, the shouting of hosanna, all these things reveal what the disciples thought was going to happen - Jesus was going to be sitting on the throne in Jerusalem - King of the Jews! But, we know that’s not how it worked out, and instead of sitting on a throne, Jesus hung on a cross.
Isaiah 53:4-6 says,
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.
We know this passage of scripture - we read it every Easter. But have we considered some of the verses that follow this passage? Verse 10 says, “But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.”
See, God is in control, and ultimately it is His will that is done. That’s not to say that it was God’s will that Hallie would be born premature, or that the world would suffer at the hands of a virus. But it is to say that God sees things from a different perspective, and we are invited to see things from that different perspective too - an eternal one.
2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So, we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
So, if your ‘best laid plans have gone to waste’ lately, look up! Don’t be discouraged! Seek to find what God is doing, recognizing that nothing is beyond His redemption!
Until then, stay safe, and help keep everyone else safe!