When Plans Don’t Work Out

How is it that I always end up here, watching in frustration as my plans go down in flames? You would think that by now I would live life knowing that I am not in control of it. Yet, as a face another unmet timeline….I am annoyed and bitter because I didn’t get my way.

We were supposed to close on our house on November 2. I knew going into this process that delays are common and I told myself I wouldn’t get my hopes up. But when you are repeatedly told that everything looks good and is on schedule, you can’t help but think that it’s all going to work out in your timeline. But two days before closing we got a call that it would be delayed. As usual I went through my processing cycle: remain calm and dwell on the “hiccup”, become annoyed by all the factors that caused it, get mad at the people who didn’t plan well enough, then become depressed because not only were my plans changed, but now I sound like my four year old.

But this time was different

This time I wasn’t depressed over my childish attitude necessarily, but rather my failure to apply what I had been studying in my women’s Bible study on the attributes of God. We had just finished learning about God’s sovereignty and his omnipresence. I had spent two weeks focusing on how He sees all things and is in control of all things and I still had the audacity to become annoyed over my derailed plans.

Yes this time my disappointment was different. The object of it very quickly shifted from not getting my way to not reacting the right way.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, not fruit be on the vines, and the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off and there be no heards in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength…

Habakkuk 3:17-19a

I read this passage as part of my Bible study homework the morning we recieved the call about the delayed closing. The thought of not moving that weekend hadn’t even crossed my mind. But even so, the verses struck me. Habakkuk was saying that even when things weren’t going the way they should, he was still going to rejoice in the Lord, not through His own strength, but through the strength God graciously provided.

As I meditated on that verse in my prayer time, I asked God to help me rejoice even when things were hard and not going my way because I wanted to glorify Him in all things. Just a few hours later, God would test my resolve and I would fail. It wasn’t until later that evening on the way home from church that God brought this verse back to mind. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord.” I was instantly convicted. Instead of recognizing God’s sovereignty over my life, I chose to be bitter about people’s ignorance and my lack of control. Instead of choosing to rejoice that God has provided all I need and that it was only a delay of a couple of days, I allowed myself to become depressed over the one thing I lacked.

Looking Up and not Around

“Things are looking up” is a common saying. Is it a coincidence that when people talk about their current circumstances becoming less grim they talk about looking up? I know when I am preoccupied with the chaos around me I experience nothing but depression and anxiety and it isn’t until I ‘look up” to Christ that everything else around me starts to seem less annoying and worrisome

I know I’ve talked about Peter walking on the water before, but it’s a story that really resonates with me because I am very much like Peter. I promise devotion to my Lord but when push comes to shove I become distracted by the waves and begin to sink.

Maybe you see yourself the same way. Maybe you don’t experience frustration over life’s surprises but find yourself becoming depressed or anxious. It is so easy to forget God’s sovereignty and omnipresence in our lives. In my case, I make plans and assume they become engraved in stone. But in one moment God breaks them down, not to be mean but to remind me of the fact that He is God and I am not.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, declares the Lord.

Isaiah 55:8

It can’t be any clearer than that. We can make my plans all day long, but until we remember that ultimately God is in control, we will continue to be disappointed. But when that disappointment strikes, we can always find comfort in this classic verse:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

When we become anxious over derailed plans we must remember that God knows our future. When we become frustrated over not getting our way, we need to remember that God’s plan for our future is not only in our best interest, but for HIS glory, which, as Christians is our reason for existence.

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