What If Your Plans Fail?


What do you do after your chosen college turns you down? Here's some terrific advice from Amber Penney.

So, you thought you knew where you were headed. You had your dream school pegged, and you'd pretty much tossed out the other applications. Then wham! The door was shut in your face. You step back, a little bewildered. You wonder if that really just happened. Then the questions begin to flood your mind like a spring storm. What do I do now? Where should I go? Or maybe you've had no clue from the beginning. You're not sure what you want to study. Actually, you're not 100 percent sure you even want to go to college. You've got a stack of brochures your parents collected for you, but nothing's really rising to the top. You feel like you're trying to find your way in a room that's pitch dark.

Perhaps this is right where God wants you. You may feel unsettled, and the future may look uncertain, but this is really an incredible opportunity. Now's your chance to say, "I don't know what to do, God. I need your help." Now you're ready to pray this prayer with David: "Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name" (Psalm 86:11). Desperation has a way of getting our attention and making us ready to listen. It can show us that we really don't know as much as we thought and can remind us that we should have been asking God to direct us all along. What's more, it can make us ready to follow—no matter what the cost—because we've seen how faulty our own schemes can be. Your situation may not be as extreme as David's—he was searching for direction because people were trying to kill him—but even so, his prayer serves as a threefold model to anyone seeking guidance:

  • Admit your need. David asked God to teach him because he knew he couldn't live successfully without instruction from the King of the universe. Being able to recognize his need showed David's humility. And according to Psalm 25:9, that's the kind of person God directs: "He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way."
  • Respond to what God reveals. David promised he would obey God's instruction because he understood that would bring him real satisfaction. He well remembered the words of Moses: "For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you…" (Deuteronomy 30:16).
  • Pray for pure devotion. Even with God-given wisdom, David knew he could still be distracted in his pursuit of following God's will (see also Psalm 19:13). So he asked for a heart that would be completely committed to God and totally convinced of his good plan.

Ultimately, David prayed a prayer of surrender, acknowledging that God's plan was better than anything he could've dreamed up on his own. The same is true for you. God wants to guide you. Will you follow?

Written by Amber Penney

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