Planning the Perfect Life
"Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)
I was the girl with the Five-Year Plan. In my heart, I carried a list of all I wanted to achieve, experience and accomplish. When I talked about the Five-Year Plan, I’d act like it was no big deal, and I’d laugh about it. Yet in reality … It. Was. No. Joke. I held it tightly.
At the age of 20, my Five-Year Plan included finishing my education degree, teaching for a year, going to Bible college for a year, and then heading to the mission field. It seemed logical to me.
When I was 8 years old, I decided I wanted to be a teacher. At 12, a missionary who spoke at my church planted a seed of growing passion for the nations. So I designed my schedule to achieve these plans the millisecond after I left college. After all, God had planted these dreams in my heart. It was my job to fulfill them, right?
Sounded perfect to me!
About two years into the Five-Year Plan, my "perfect" plan was interrupted by a tall, blue-eyed man who wasn’t part of what I had written onto my extended calendar. I told my mom he wasn’t my type before our first date.
Then I married him.
That might seem like an odd juxtaposition, and it was. Nine months after I declared Barry Carroll "not my type," I walked down the aisle toward him, my white dress trailing behind me. I was so choked with love and the overwhelming solemnity of the occasion that I could barely gasp out my vows.
This year we celebrated our Silver Anniversary, and my bridegroom is the best interruption to my plans that ever happened to me. It turns out, God’s Word is true. "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails" (Proverbs 19:21).
Sometimes it takes an interruption of our perfect plan to start the life that’s perfect for us.
When I was young, I thought plans were revealed, but it turns out life unfolds. Those dreams God planted in my heart as a girl? They’ve come to pass one by one over the past 25 years, and I’m living some dreams I never imagined at all.
Are you a planner? Good for you! Plan away, but hold those plans with open hands and a heart ready to wait.
Just this morning as I read 2 Peter 3, I found plans that all of us should hold tightly while we leave the unfolding of our circumstances to the Lord. "What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming" (2 Peter 3:11b-12a, NIV). We should all plan who we’re going to be, rather than what we’re going to do.
Are you frustrated by a lack of plans? It’s okay. Really. God is no less in control of your life than the other planners’ lives around you. Wait. Watch for Him, and let His plan unfold. You’re probably better off than we planners who constantly struggle to let go and recalibrate as God works. You can help your planner friends relax and go with God’s flow!
I’ve given up my Five-Year Plan, and I’m learning to wake up each day determined to sync my calendar to God’s. He’s the faithful unfolder of my days.
Lord, I trust You to fulfill Your plans in my life, and I surrender my own plans to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (NIV)
2 Thessalonians 3:5, "May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance." (NIV)
In Amy’s new book Breaking Up with Perfect: Kiss Perfection Good-bye and Embrace the Joy God Has in Store for You, she reveals how we all can find more joy in a less-than-perfect life.
Amy invites you to stop by her blog today, where she’s giving away a of copy Breaking Up with Perfect.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Are you a planner? List some of the things you’ve included in your Five-Year Plan. Put a check by the ones that have come to pass. When you look at the rest, can you identify places in your life that have been better than your original idea of perfection? Write those events on your list, and thank God for them.
Are you frustrated by a lack of plans right now? Write out a prayer thanking God for holding your life in His hands. Tell Him you trust Him for every detail of your future, even though it’s unclear to you. Ask Him to help you on the days that fear and uncertainty seem overwhelming.
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