I once heard the story of a certain man. I neither met nor even knew him but somehow the story of his life made rounds, from generation to generation from one century to another, told by folks who drew inspiration from this amazingly courageous man. This man lived in those days when the sky was the path of the squirrel, when men wore skirts, long overflowing gowns and full grown Osama looking beards were in vogue, when women were natural beauties from the crown of their heads to the sole of their feet, when camel and horses carried out the same function as a Ferrari, when wealth was measured in sons and cattle, when servants were considered chattels. In short, these events took place a long long time ago.
This man was an upright in all his ways and holy in all his works. He neither smoked nor engaged in wining and wenching. Even when his kids partied (and they partied hard), he spent the whole night casting and binding any errant spirits they may have unleashed. And he was a man of great wealth too. Infact he was the Bill Gates of his generation. On top of all that, he was very benevolent. Widows, orphans and the indigent all had his number on speed dial. This man was simply a candidate for sainthood and if it was possible, he would have walked around with a halo around his head.
All of a sudden, disaster fell upon him like an avalanche of snow. He lost his wealth, his kids and his health in 24 hours. The saying it never rains, it pours, has never been truer. In the midst of his distress, he cursed the day he was born, cursed his friends who had outrightly told him he was suffering for some heinous sin he must have committed; he even cursed his wife who suggested he curse God and die. In spite of his pain and suffering, he held onto his integrity and refused to curse his Maker. By now, any bible reading person would have guessed the star of this story. His name was Job and he is in the Guinness book of world record as the world’s most suffering man, and rightly so, because I sincerely doubt if anyone in this life ever suffered the magnitude of his loss and in such a short time too.
The Bible is full of stories of people who encountered changes of plans. After the glorious exodus from Egypt, the Israelites were “supposed” to walk into the Promise Land—the home long-hoped for. After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, it was clear, things were not going as they had planned. Mary and Joseph were “supposed” to get married and start a family and lead normal lives—but after an angel showed up with a mission from above, plans changed. Lazarus was “supposed” to be healed; after all, he was a close personal friend of Jesus himself. But after his sickness took a turn for the worse, suddenly his family realized plans had changed. David was “supposed” to be king of Israel but spent the better part of his prime running from King Saul. Joseph whose dreams foretold his “supposed” greatness was sold in slavery and ended up doing jail time for 13 yrs for a crime he didn’t commit. Job was “supposed” to be righteous and therefore immune from evil. We all know what happened to him.
Many of the characters in the Bible didn’t understand why God had so drastically changed their plans, but God is more concerned with the outcome, than the scenario. After all, the scenario is only temporary; outcomes are eternal. Israel did find the Promise Land after 40 years. Mary and Joseph raised Jesus Christ himself. Lazarus was brought back from the dead after the illness took his life. David became the greatest king of Israel whose lineage produced the Messiah. Joseph went from prisoner to prime minister in less than 24 hours. Job was blessed twice as much as he had lost. Plans changed but God turned around what was meant for evil to good.
Many people have to deal with impossibly difficult situations that aren’t part of their plan. Though some of us are never faced with such dramatic decisions, we all have things that didn’t work out the way they were “supposed” to.
I was supposed to be married by now. I was supposed to be promoted by now. I was supposed to have achieved (fill in the blank) by now.
Life happens. Plans change. But God is still there and still in charge.
Plans can be good, but when our focus is so intent on making them happen, it can be crushing when things just don’t work out like we wanted them to. When our whole life is shaped around our plans, suddenly we can become so concentrated on accomplishing them that we lose sight of God. Too often, our lives are dedicated to serving our own plans. But as Christians, we are called to serve only one. Our plans can become idols. When we live our lives trying to achieve expectations that we determined, we put our plans over God’s. And, the thing about our plans is, they can always change. But God never does.
Many times, plans turn out to be like the house built on sand Jesus described in Matthew 7:24. When the winds and waves of change come, the house crumbles into the sea. But faith in God’s eternal purpose is the house built on the rock: “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Matthew 7:25, NIV).
Tragedy happens. Winds and waves are all around us. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. We all do things we regret and are faced with consequences. But when we rely on God—not our own ability to make our plans become realities—things that weren’t supposed to happen, actually turn out all right. Most plans don’t allow for second chances. But God does. Every time we make a mistake, God turns into a GPS and recalculates our routes.
One of my law school lecturers was fond of saying “I am in charge, allow me to shine”, anytime we got into argument with him in class. It quickly became the mantra with which he was associated and was one of our most popular lecturers as a result. That is the same with our life, our plans and our faith. Sometimes, it’s not until after you decide to abandon them that you realize that maybe there still is bigger and better plan after all. For when one door closes, another always opens…. and wider too. Often times however, we look so longingly at the closed door that we fail to see that another has just opened up right in front of us. Behind every cloud is a silver lining. Unfortunately, we miss out on the silver lining in our quest for the Golden Fleece.
So what are those plans you’ve made that seem to have fallen through, the non realization of which keeps you awake at night and drowns you in tears? God is telling you today, “(Fill in your name), I am in charge, allow me to shine. Let my glory be seen in you and in this situation” So LET GO AND LET GOD!!!
And always remember that God’s plans for us are always for good and never for evil: Jeremiah 29:11