Last Friday morning, as I was driving my husband to work (we are a one-car family at the moment), he spontaneously asked if I had my cell phone on me. When I asked why he replied, “Just in case you need it. You never know.”
Jokingly, I told him, “oh, I don’t carry cell phones ‘just in case of emergency.‘ My plan for life is to just never let anything bad happen to me ever. That always works, right? I don’t know why more people don’t take this approach!” Har dee har har har.
Fewer than fifteen minutes later, after dropping my husband off at work, I was headed back home on the freeway when traffic stopped suddenly and I rear-ended the vehicle in front of me. No one was hurt, and both vehicles were still fully operational, but due to the cost of the cosmetic repairs and one crack to the radiator, the insurance company “totaled” our car. Well, I guess technically I totaled our car.
Har dee har har har, indeed. While waiting for the police to arrive at the accident scene, I sent a text to my husband: “Hey, so, uh...my plan to stay invincible sorta already failed.”
I may have been joking when I said my life plan was to never let anything bad happen to me, but if I’m honest with myself, I regularly make plans as though I know exactly what will happen next.
I’m not sure where I heard that making a five-year plan was essential, but it seems I’ve always had one. I love to try to predict where life will take me next!
When I graduated college and got married, my five-year plan did not include having children. Grad school, a great career, taking time off from said great career to travel the world (or else somehow making world travel my career), saving up a bunch of money--I thought these things were all destined to happen for me within the next five years. Children were more a part of my eight-to-ten-year plan.
Two years later, I welcomed my first daughter into the world and began constructing a new five-year plan. Full time career and world travel were postponed for the time being, but I would work part time and then go back to work full time once my daughter was in preschool.
Sixteen months later, my second daughter was born, and my five-year plan shifted once again. Maybe I didn’t want to go back to work full time in a few years. Maybe I wanted to continue working part time so I could spend more time with my girls.
By the time I got pregnant with my third child, my life looked nothing like the five-year plan I had concocted five years previous. The-world-travel-and-career plan had been fully replaced by the raise-my-children-and-manage-my-household-and-possibly-even-homeschool plan. While I now find this new plan so much more fun and exciting than my old plan (truly!), I’m not sure I could have convinced myself of this five years ago. Because five years ago, I thought I had the best plan. I thought I knew exactly what would be best for me and my life. I forgot that God is the only one whose plans for my life actually come to fruition. Good thing, too, because his plans are always for my good whereas my own plans, although well-meaning, are often lacking.
11 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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[a] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:11-15)
This month my five-year-plan took about eight different turns. At the beginning of the month it seemed quite straight forward and involved using our tax return to pay off debt and then possibly moving to a different country for awhile as a family. Twenty-two days, one car accident, several conversations, review of our finances, and many changes of mental direction later, our five-year-plan has evolved to include different financial and spiritual priorities. It seems we are discussing future possibilities and adjusting the plan accordingly each and every day. Sometimes several times per day. Are we going to replace our totaled car with a van, another car, or a bike and a bus pass? The jury’s still out on that one (although definite judgment has been passed on the bus pass, pun intended).
It’s shameful how often I forget to seek the Lord when making plans for my life. No matter how many times I am reminded that I do not, in fact, know what will happen to me in the next two minutes let alone tomorrow, I continue to make worldly plans as though God has nothing to do with them. This morning as I contemplate the many directions in which my life could turn, my only definite plan is to remember to ask for God’s guidance first before making plans.
Do you find you are exactly where you thought you would be five years ago or has God taken your life in a surprisingly different direction?