If you followed along last week with our Prayer Project series, you already know that what I started out praying for Jim Bob, led to adventures wildly different from my original intent in praying.
Oh, but the Lord has a FABULOUS sense of humor! He gets quite a thrill—I think—out of taking our plans and turning them inside, outside, upside down.
Oh The Plans I Have For Myself
As a young bride I had great visions of what our life together would be like: how things would play out, where and how we would live, how we would parent, how we would decorate, how many children we would have—and when…
You name it and I was full of plans.
Funny how things change, isn’t it?
As I look back through the last 20 years we’ve been together, I am amazed at how few of those plans came to fruition in the way I originally imagined, and yet I can wholeheartedly say: We are better off today for them not working out according to our preconceived notions.
When You Surrender Your Plans to God
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” —Isaiah 55:9
True story #1
My Plan: When Jim Bob and I first met, I was a feminist, I wanted only one child… maybe. And even then, only after I was 35.
God’s Reality: God changed our hearts and we had our first child when I was 28. We now have 4 children on earth and 3 in heaven due to miscarriage.
God:1, Amy: 0 4
True story #2
My Plan: When we were first married, I wanted to decorate our home perfectly to our taste. I had a home decor notebook; I studied and studied about textiles, furniture, art, and design. I knew what we liked. I was ready.
Let’s go decorate!
God’s Reality: Funds were extremely tight, children came earlier than my original plan (see #1, above) which was factored in to my decorating timeline (of course), and the realities of living life sank in. Our home has never looked like the magazine pages I put into my home decor notebook.
But our home has been decorated with love and laughter; life has been sweet—even without the “perfection” I had envisioned.
God:1, Amy: 0 2 (at least)
True story #3
My Plan: When our children were young, I imagined them all to be geniuses and heavily academic, full of knowledge, and able to tackle Ivy League Colleges and make me proud. Oh, and they would be perfectly behaved all the time.
God’s Reality: Well, the college thing is still waiting to be seen. But I can tell you that—while my children are not perfect (just like their parents)—they do know and love the Lord. They can tell you what Jesus did for them and why they are His. They are all wildly creative, with abilities I never imagined in my dreams for our children. They are all finding out more about what the Lord’s plans are for them, and it is such a thrill to cheer them on in the path He is showing each of them.
Ivy league or not, worldly-wise or not, my children know: the Lord loves them, we love them, and that Mom and Dad love each other.
What God does with each of their lives is completely up to God. Our job is to simply be faithful in the stewardship of these eternal souls He has placed in our charge.
God:1, Amy: 0 Too many to count.
True story #4
My Plan: When we were first married, we decided Austin, Texas was our home sweet home. It is still – even though we are not currently living there. We reside in Virginia (again). We moved to Virginia the first time in 2005, then went back to Austin in 2009, resolving to never leave our beloved Texas again. Well….. as of this year, we are back in Virginia.
To understand this from our perspective, one must first understand 1. Our love of Texas, 2. How much we detest cold weather, and 3. How much we prefer a laid-back lifestyle (The D.C. area isn’t exactly laid-back). God likes to take us out of our comfort zones.
God’s Reality: Great things have resulted from our move to the D.C. area, however: We have gotten cooking, cleaning, and diet systems figured out much better than we had before. We have been together more as a family simply because we don’t have as many friends in this area yet. Our children really seem to be finding niches that fit them perfectly. It has been a joy to watch them grow and blossom in the gifts the Lord has given them. And, to top it off, God has given us a firmer vision for our future. Not bad for being dragged, kicking and screaming 1700 miles from home!
God:1 Amy: 0 6+
True story #5
My Plan: In our younger years, I saw Jim Bob as my “Prince Charming.” I had him so high up on that white charger, I didn’t realize the pressure I put on him to be a perfect husband in every way. It’s a long way down, let me tell you. No man wants to be idolized in that way. It’s scary for a man to be put in the place he knows that only God belongs—and he’s sure he’s not fit for.
God’s Reality: Thankfully, when God showed me what I had been doing by idolizing my man, He graced me with repentance and restored our marriage in a way that is much more beautiful than it could ever have been before.
God:1, Amy: 0 How do I count the ways???
Did you notice how every time God got His way, I won?
We have learned that every day, every plan should be given to God with open hands, and with a heart willing to let Him guide (and change) those plans according to His will. It is always loving and trusting a God who always gives us what is His best for us, even if His best doesn’t match our idea of the best. He never leaves us nor forsakes us; He is trustworthy; and He always works ALL things to our good.
Changes in plans are a gift from God to be embraced, not feared. What He wants is our hearts surrendered to Him, to His plans, and to His work in us and in those around us. He only asks for willing and humble reliance on Him, and complete surrender to His will rather than our own. When you surrender your plans to God, you learn to enter into the life of Christ and become more like the One who surrendered to His Father’s will—for our good.
He loves us and will work it all out for good. This is all we really need to know—He takes care of the rest.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” —Romans 8:28-29
Has God ever changed your plans? your mind? your heart? How has it worked to your good?
Are you hanging on to something that the Lord wants you to let go of? If you would like us to pray for you, please contact us. We consider it a blessing to pray for our friends! You can leave a comment so others can pray for you, too. Or you can use the contact form to send us a private note. Your privacy is important to us.