I’m a dreamer, a maker of plans. I like to get a vision and go with it.
Actually, I’m more of a “let me give you a vision then you go with it” kind of girl.
Because I don’t like to get bogged down in details.
But I do love to see a plan fulfilled. My heart is full of joy when something that was only living in my head and heart is real and tangible and actually working.
Of course, things don’t always work out that way. Sometimes, things just don’t go the way we plan, do they?
When Things Don’t Go As Planned
I had planned to go to Kenya at the end of this month, but the friend I was traveling with had an accident that left no doubt that trip, at this time, is not meant to be.
And, to be honest, the change in plans has thrown more than my airline tickets up in the air.
Our goal for the trip was to get a renewed vision for ministry this year and make plans for the coming months. We also planned to spend time praying with and encouraging our ministry partners in Nairobi.
The burning question is “Now what?”
It’s not the first time our plans have had to change, and it won’t be the last. You and I both know that things happen that we can’t predict and don’t expect. We get blindsided even on the best days.
Like the day there were two tiny heartbeats on our ultrasound screen.
Even good changes can wreak havoc on the plans we’ve made.Even good changes can wreak havoc on the plans we've made. #EncouragingWordWednesday Click To Tweet
So, what do we do when things don’t work out the way we’ve planned? How do we handle changes we can’t control?
Realize that You Might Be Surprised, But God is Not
First, we need to recognize that we might be surprised, but God is not.
Psalm 139: 16 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
I don’t know about you, but I find that very comforting. It helps my heart to know that God doesn’t look at my situation and say, “Wow. I did not see that coming!”
Long ago, I wrote these words in the margin of my Bible: “Nothing ever just occurs to God.
He didn’t wake up today and realize you are facing unemployment or illness or unexpected anything.
He’s known all along.God did not just wake up today and realize the situation you're in. He's known all along. #EncouragingWordWednesday Click To Tweet
When I was dealing with my parents’ divorce, that thought set me free. I had been so angry about the situation and the timing, about finding myself alone and full of sorrow my freshman year of college until I read those words above and realized that the timing was perfect because God had planned my life knowing my parents’ would divorce and when they would do it.
He had prepared me in ways I didn’t realize, too.
Because he does that, doesn’t he?
Recognize that God Has Already Been Working
One of the things we can do when we face changes is to look for the ways that God has been working to prepare us or make a way for us.
In the months since we purchased our plane tickets, I received several notifications about schedule changes, which I thought was strange because in all of my years of travel, I’d never before received even one.
When I called to inquire about canceling our flights after my friend’s accident, we were faced with fees, and there didn’t seem to be much we could do to prevent losing at least half of the money we’d paid for our tickets.
But do you know what? Those schedule changes meant we received a full refund.
God was at work long before we even knew we needed his help.God is at work before we even know we need his help. #EncouragingWordWednesday Click To Tweet
So, in addition to being thankful God protected my friend, I am giving thanks because he took care of things financially, too.
Give Thanks in All Things
When things don’t go the way we plan, we can still give thanks. We SHOULD still give thanks.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances,” even the ones we didn’t plan on!
But how can we give thanks? Because we know that God’s plans are good.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
We can thank him because we know he is leading and guiding us. Consider the words of Proverbs 19:21, which says:
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
You see, our plans might have changed, but his has not.
Look for How God is Still Working and Follow Him in Obedience
So start looking for what that plan is.
Like I said above, God has been working, but do you know what? He still is! When things don’t go the way you plan, look for his plan instead.
I hate not going to Kenya this month because I had just heard from friends there about how much they were looking forward to our visit and the time we would spend in prayer together and encouraging one another.
I admit I felt a little bit like Paul must have felt when he wrote to the Thessalonians about how he longed to come to them but was prevented. (1 Thessalonians 2:18)
He didn’t let that stop him from what God had planned instead.
And we can’t let it stop us either.
So, seek him. Trust that, event in times of uncertainty or disappointment, you “‘will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” (Isaiah 30:21)
I hope your new year is off to a great start! I’d love to hear from you about how you handle the changes you face. What helps you face change with faith, not fear? Leave a comment, and let’s learn from one another! Also, please join us this week for Encouraging Word Wednesday by adding a link or two to your latest faith-filled posts and then visiting and encouraging another blogger, too!