Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

As the old joke goes, if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans for your life.  As children and young adults, we are told to dream big and work hard to achieve our dreams when we are young.  It is good for us, as mothers, to encourage our children to set goals and work toward them, but what happens when life doesn’t turn out as planned?

Many of us get discouraged.  Discouragement is a feeling that everyone has felt at one point or another in their life.  We dream, plan, work and all too often the circumstances of life take us from the road we thought we were on down a completely different path.  When this happens, it can feel like we are going from a smooth, paved, wide road with shade trees on each side of us, streams of water flowing for refreshment and plentiful berries and fresh fruit for us to partake to a our journey to a bumpy, narrow, dark, road where we cannot find refreshment or comfort.  We may question God at this point as to why He has put us on this road.  It is not a bad thing to question the “whys” in our life as it can reveal that you’ve been put on that path for a specific reason.  Maybe that reason is because at the end of that path, there is a much better destination waiting for you than where you were originally headed or maybe at the end of that path, there is a person that is hurting and God wants to use you to minister to their soul.  One thing we can have faith in is that God uses ALL circumstances for His good purpose.  In that we can have comfort.  When we face trials, it is because He wants to use your life to glorify Him.

It can be a dangerous practice, however, to question God and then tell Him that you have a better plan for your life.  All to often, that can be our mindset when life doesn’t go as we hoped it would.  Loneliness, frustration, bitterness and anger are often the feelings that follow discouragement.  If we look to the root of those feelings, however, we find that the cause of all of these negative feelings really boils down to selfishness.  WE DIDN’T GET WHAT WE WANTED.  Like a spoiled child, we may lash out in anger at God.  We may cry out in pain and beg and plead for us to get our own way and when that doesn’t happen, we may question God’s very presence.  We may say things like, “If there really is a loving God, why is He making me go through this?!”

Last night, as I was making dinner, Joey misbehaved and was sent to his room.   I was cooking burgers and hot dogs on the grill and he decided to spit on a part of the grill where there was no food.  I was disgusted and angry.  I can sort of see how that is a "boy" thing to do, but in all honesty, he knew better.  On the way to his room, he looked at me and said, “I wish I was in a different family.”  I calmly (believe it or not) told him to continue upstairs and I would be up to speak with him about his behavior in a few minutes.  He continued to stomp up the stairs, grumbling the whole way.  Once he got upstairs, I heard him thrashing around in his bedroom.  When I went upstairs, I could sense that he was angry, so I asked him what was up.  He told me that he didn’t think I loved him.  I assured him that he received discipline because I loved him.  If I just let him do whatever he wanted to do, he would end up not learning right from wrong and not making good choices and because I’m older and have had life experiences, I could foresee the path he would end up on and ultimately, it would not be a good one.

God knows the future.  He can see all of the possibilities that lay in front of us and He only wants the best for us.  Sometimes things happen and you have done NOTHING wrong and it still seems like you are facing unjust consequences.  This is the time when you have to blindly trust that God knows what is best for you and that even though you cannot understand why you are facing trials, He has a reason.  The very definition of the word faith is to have a complete trust or confidence in something.  Just as I ask my child to trust me when I give him consequences or make a decision for him, God asks us to do the same.  Like a good parent wants the best for his children, our Heavenly Father wants the best for us.

If you are facing trials right now, I encourage you to turn to God, trust in Him and seek to follow His will for your life.  Instead of acting like a petulant child and lashing out at God for your circumstances, I encourage you to look at them as positively as you can.  I often get frustrated at my life and yes, at the Lord, but when I step back and say, "Hey, I wonder what God is doing?", I can almost feel an excitement.  I can look at my trials in a different light and see that they are for my own good and to make my life better than it was.  God truly loves you and wants only the best for his precious children.  Turn to Him, ask Him for guidance and have faith in His plan for your life.

"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."  ~Jeremiah 29:11 

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