April 29, 2013

Change of Plans

I was out in the garden, staking up a tomato plant. The silence was extraordinary. No birds. No breeze. Blue skies directly overhead.

With no warning, a flash shattered my concentration, followed instantly by a ground-rattling boom. Raindrops began to splatter on my hands, while I rushed to finish stabilizing the tomato cage.

As I ran through the lightning-punctuated downpour, the distance between my garden and back door seemed further than usual. So much for my outdoor to-do list. I sat inside catching my breath, drying off, and thinking deep thoughts about planning.

Working from home, I have the privilege of planning many elements of my work schedule. On a monthly basis, my husband carefully plans what we will eat. In college, I could plan exactly how many study hours I needed to invest in order to earn a certain grade. Part of my job now is even helping college students plan their studies, plan for personal growth, and make time-management plans. I plan what I'll wear a day in advance. I plan for how long it will take me to drive to church. I have a plan for which housekeeping tasks I'll complete on certain days of the week.

Today, running through that sudden April shower, I was reminded of the limits of planning prowess.

According to the weather website, it wasn't going to rain until 7:00 in the evening. I had written out my daily schedule based on that, with outdoor action items planned for the early afternoon. And in one flash, my perfect schedule was made insignificant. I'm disappointed, yes; but I'm not going to beat myself up for not accomplishing the rest of my garden tasks today. There was a bigger plan than mine for this day (God's), and it fulfilled a bigger need (rain).

Sometimes I need to step back and look at life this way as well. Facets of my life are drastically different from the way I always wanted and expected them to be. My carefully plotted long-term plan is so skewed by now, I'm not even sure what I want the schedule to look like for the next five years. But I'm trusting that there's a bigger plan, that God is working to fulfill a bigger need. I can't keep going back and analyzing what went wrong, what I could've done differently.

No, when April showers come and rearrange your day, you realize there's nothing you could've done to stop that rainstorm. Likewise, I couldn't have altered this life-path God destined me for.

So here I am indoors, sipping water from a mason jar, listening to the thunder, and wondering, what do I do now? I tear the top page off my notepad and toss the afternoon to-do list into the trash. I write today's date at the top of a clean, white page a blank page, ready to have fresh goals listed there.

And I see it now
When my plans lie crumpled in the wastebasket, just then my life is prepared to have written upon it new plans, new goals, dreams I never would have considered before.

A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9