I Surrender

I SurrenderIf 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.

Lesson Learned

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

Your Turn

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.

This post is linked to Time-Warp Wife, and Serving Joyfully

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9 thoughts on “I Surrender

  1. Pingback: How to Bless Your Family with Un-Decor (Thankful Thursday) | Amy Joe Jim Bob

  2. Amy Beth

    God changed my plans about careers and marriage.

    I went to school for theatre because I wanted to get married and start a family soon after graduation. Instead, I graduated without a spouse, fiance, boyfriend or even ever having been asked out on a date!

    I thought I’d go to grad school and become a marketing/pr specialist for the arts, especially non-profit performing arts organizations. I even applied and got into 2 competitive masters programs! (One an MBA another an MFA – both with an emphasis in Arts Administration).

    But my funding fell through – no loans, no grants only one small scholarship – so I couldn’t afford tuition.

    I ended up moving back to Colorado and then going to grad school 2 years later with a completely different career path – children’s librarian. This time I got a full ride scholarship plus a stipend!

    I’m 28 now. Had God given me MY plan for myself I’d be going on 6 years of marriage now, expecting baby #2 and enjoying Christmas as a stay at home mom. Those are all wonderful and Biblical things – BUT – they are NOT what God had planned for me. (At least, not yet . . . )

    Instead I’m where I know I’m supposed to be – serving a rural mountain community as a children’s librarian.

    Even though many Christian bloggers – esp. mommy bloggers – would say I’ve chosen the “feminist” path – the truth is, it’s only because of God changing my plans that I’ve learned to trust Him more and grow a more intimate relationship with Him. He could have given me marriage and babies, but He gave me Himself instead.

    1. Amy Joe Post author

      Dear sweet Amy Beth,

      I sense that you have been judged harshly or are fearful of judgment for taking the path you have taken. I want you to know that I do not judge you! Certainly not, for I am not living your life. You are living the life the Lord has given you, as far as I can tell by your remarks above. That is all anyone can do – follow where the Lord leads. I think your story is beautiful in that it shows a heart surrendered to God’s plan for your life. I am sure you are fit by Him to be an incredible encouragement to the children you are in contact with. If this is what the Lord has for you, then you are on the right path, and must follow where He leads. Grace, peace, and many blessings, sweet sister! I hope I will hear from you again!

  3. Ben

    Ironic day for you to post this, Amy. I feel like I need to post something, since you ask whether God has ever changed my plans… :-/ Sometimes His changes are subtle and gradual. I see many instances of His work in my life and the lives of our family similar to what you describe above. Sometimes His changes are much more forceful and dramatic and in the blink of an eye everything you knew, all of your plans, thoughts and dreams in this world are radically and forever changed. Bottom line: He is sovereign – period. And, we know that all things work together for the good of those He has called according to His purpose. No matter whether it is something you may be able to look back upon and laugh, or that might leave a life-long scar or hole in your heart, it is all for our good and His glory. He is God. He loves His children. He knows what we need better than we do, and provides what we need, when we need it. (Matt. 6) His plans are much better than ours are, though we may not see it. I am thankful He allows us to see at least a glimpse of His work in our lives, and thankful that He – the Lord of all Creation – condescends to care about us – care unto adoption as sons and daughters through His only begotten Son. To Him be the glory!

    1. Amy Joe Post author

      Ben, you guys have been on my heart and mind today. And you are right, “bottom line, God is sovereign,” and He loves us dearly. Please give Karissa and those kids a great big hug from me!

      1. Ben

        Thank you, Amy, and I will. One of Theresa’s favorite verses has been one of mine, too, these last 4 years. Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” All is part of His plan and for His glory. My trust is in Him. (And, yes – there are MANY things in life where I can see the humor in how He works things for His purposes – contrary to MY plans! Though, sometimes God throws us some serious curves, too!)

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