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
I use that verse a lot in my writing. Today, it hit me in an entirely new way. I am a planner. This is something that isn’t news to ANYONE who knows me – especially, my husband and two of my best friends (Priscilla and Melody, also organized planners – I love them so!). I like when things are in order and in place. I get migraines when things are in chaos. Those who have seen the second Tinkerbell movie will understand why my husband says this to me all the time, “Fairy Mary, why are you counting?”
What can I say? I like plans. 1 Corinthians 14:33 is an often (mis)quoted verse that people like to sum up as “God is not the author of confusion”. This is true, but not the reason I OBSESS over my plans. Yes, I said that right. MY plans. My organization. MY order. So often I get so caught up in what I have to do – or think – I have to do, that what really is important gets lost.
Another thing to know, I don’t do dependence…not very well anyway. Someone will ask me how they can help, and even if I tell them, in the back of my mind I’m always creating a contingency plan for when they don’t come through (hey, we’ve already established I have trust issues). It makes for a very busy, very complicated way to spend my days.
Did I mention, I also do this when it comes to God? Didn’t think so…
I told this story on my old blog, but I’ll give a brief synopsis here. Almost two years ago, one of the two aforementioned bffs, Priscilla, sent me a text message – “God says this is for you, John 16:24, ‘Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.’” Ok, fine. So, I started thinking of things I thought God would want me to ask for, and I thought of the ways I could tell God, “that’s ok, I didn’t want it anyway”, when He said, “no”.
Since then, God has been changing the way I pray and changing the way I view myself in His eyes. So, I went from presenting my business plan to my boss to taking a wish to a Daddy that asked for it. I don’t view God as Automatic Prayer Dispenser who exists to give me what I want like On Demand programming. But, He loves us and desires to take care our needs AND (sometimes) our desires. My (ironic) life verse is Psalm 37:4, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart”. When your heart is aligned with God’s, your desires for you are His desires for you, so He desires to give it to you anyway. So, when my Heavenly Daddy couldn’t get my attention, He sent my best friend to ask me, “what do you want?”
It took 18 months for me to begin to answer…at least in the way He was looking for (I want *this* just because). I’ll tell that story later…when we get to the end of it. Anyway, even as I was asking and praying, not presenting a business plan (this is how my prayer will benefit You, God!) I was expecting to be disappointed and/or ignored (told you my life verse was ironic). Even as the pieces fell together I wasn’t expecting God to come through. Recently, all that has changed…but that’s not really what this is about…
Back to the verse from the very top, Jeremiah 29:11….I was thinking back on the journey of how my life has changed since this whole thing began. I was thinking about everything I’ve learned and how my prayer life has grown and how I’ve grown and how I’m more brave than I used to be and how I believe that Philippians 1:6 is true – being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. If all my prayers had been answered on my schedule and in my planning timeline, I would have missed all this. I would have missed out on all the growth I’ve had, all the tears I needed to cry, all the times God spoke, everything.
I would have missed the entire lesson for the sake of scheduling the class.
Does that make sense? That’s how I feel. I feel like it was so important for me to do this in a certain order that I failed to remember the point of going to class is the lesson!!!
I still like my plans. I still LOVE my handy dandy pocket secretary of a phone. I love my planners and office supply stores still make me happy. But, I get it now. None of that is more important than time with the Teacher who wrote the course book and knows what’s coming at the end of all of this. I couldn’t handle today’s lesson yesterday because I didn’t have the proper foundation. I wasn’t ready. Today, I learned what I’ll need to be ready for tomorrow. One day, I’ll be ready for everything God has for me. Then, we start over with something new. Until then, I’ll keep studying, keep working, keep showing up for class knowing that He will always be there ready to teach.