Wednesday night, after sharing my prayer requests with my small group at church, one of the ladies giggled and said, “Ah, so you’re giving God your agenda.” I had to laugh because this article about making plans lightly in order to be more pliable to God’s leading was already in the rough draft stage. I laughed even harder the entire drive home as I thought of countless other times I’ve done the same thing.
I like to give God a to-do list. And sometimes (okay, so most times) I’ll even tell Him how I think things should be done, so focused on my ant-sized view I forget that God’s perspective is galaxies beyond mine. And yet, when I look back over my life–the six moves my husband and I have made in our fifteen years together, my daughter’s journey from homeschool to Christian school and soon to be public school, the various churches we’ve been a part of and experiences we’ve had along the way–I realize that none of it has gone according to plan. My plan, anyway. And yet, in hindsight, I wouldn’t change a moment. Even the times when things appeared so bleak I thought my heart would break.
Okay, so maybe I would change part of it. Not the circumstances, but my reactions. And my long-term agenda, because every time I allowed myself to get caught up in plans of where I’m going, I lost sight of God. And in those brief moments when my false expectations and human ambitions crowded out His voice, the emptiness and restlessness that ensued was worse than any trial I have faced. And yet, conversely, when I allow myself to rest in God’s hand, the peace has been amazing. Enough to keep me turning my eyes upward regardless of what is before me.
The Bible says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” And all I have to say is THANK YOU, GOD! I think I would be amazed if I were to catch a glimmer of all the sand traps God has directed me away from! Although I suppose we have the choice whether or not to follow. We could go our own way, could we not? Shove our fists in the air, shake our heads, laughing to ourselves at how foolish God must be to think that job, that move, that ministry, is worthy of our time. He’s just the Creator of the universe, after all. Surely we, His human creations, know far better how to manage our own lives!
The other day as I was finalizing an interview of gospel singer Lynda Randle, something she said impacted me. (Don’t worry, you can read it on Monday. I’m putting it up on Reflections.) She talked about how she “fell” into singing. There wasn’t an earth shattering voice pouring down from heaven saying, “Lynda Randle, thou shalt sing.” True, God had tugged on her heart, drawing her closer to Him, and she responded to that call–the call to total surrender, willingly. But she had no idea singing would be part of it. She stepped out, in faith, willing to follow God wherever He directed, before she caught sight of the road.
Lynda’s obedience has led to great success. Pop on over to her website and take a quick glance at her upcoming tour schedule to see for yourself. But that doesn’t mean obedience will always lead to success. And least, not success as the world would coin it. We may never have that five hundred thousand dollar house, or New York Times Best Seller, and if we filter our views through the eyes of the world, we may be fooled into thinking we have failed. But if we are firmly planted on the path God has designed for us, without venturing to the right or the left, we will experience success. And there is joy in that. When our eyes are on our Leader and not all the off-roads trying to distract us along the way.
One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
My understanding, my plans, even my desires, are tainted and distorted. How can I possibly expect to see clearly? But if I trust in God, and allow Him to guide me, and at times, when the road gets extra rough, to carry me, He will never let me fall. He will fulfill the plans He has for me.
So what do I do when earthly expectations cloud my vision and allow dissatisfaction or disappointment to seep into my heart? I draw closer to God and let His Spirit fill me until it has pushed all else aside. As you probably know by now, music is a huge part of my prayer life. As I wrote this, two songs came on that really spoke to me. I’m going to add a link to them here, along with another one I find especially fitting…