For this week’s Monday Minute, Liz shares how every change of plans is an opportunity to exchange our plans for God’s plans.
Change of Plans
by Liz Giertz
Those three words are pretty common in military households. I bet you even flashed back to a time when your plans changed in some abrupt, unexpected, and perhaps even dramatic way.
We had planned our last active duty PCS like a precision invasion. We were going to move to Virginia to be close to my family and position my husband for his post-retirement career. He even had a letter of recommendation from a former commander accepting him to the new unit. I had locked in the zip codes on my Zillow app and the Great Schools site. And then the orders came. All of a sudden we were headed somewhere we never planned to live.
I don’t know a service member or military family that hasn’t had to deal with a change of plans. Or many changes to the same plan.
Moving further away or sooner or not at all. Extended deployments or earlier than anticipated reunions. Daily routines, emergency contacts, church memberships, employment opportunities. Leadership styles and policies. Quality of life and cost of living. Addition or loss of loved ones. Sometimes we even endure entire seasons when it feels like everything changes.
The Bible is full of stories about people whose plans changed, either through their own choices or the decisions other people made.
Noah probably never intended to become the world’s first boatbuilder. Joseph’s life changed at warp speed—from favored son to slave, administrator to inmate, dream interpreter to Pharaoh’s second in command. Joshua probably planned to follow Moses into the Promised Land as a young man instead of becoming the one to lead the Israelites across the Jordan 40 years later. I doubt Esther imagined herself married to the king, let alone defying his directives in order to save her people. Ruth could never have foreseen herself as a widow caring for her mother-in-law in a land where she was hated as a foreigner only to marry into the lineage of Jesus. Not to mention David went from a lowly shepherd boy to defeating giants to running from the king to being the king. Saul who became Paul went from persecuting Jesus’ followers to one of the most famous Christian missionaries.
None of these changes occurred outside the will of God.
And with the benefit of a couple of centuries worth of hindsight, it is easy to see how God used every one of these changes for good.
It can be easy to see the good in some of the changes we face, like a PCS to Hawaii instead of Minot, North Dakota. Some situations require us to look a little deeper. Still others are so gut-wrenching they knock us to our knees. But that is the best posture from which to rise up.
Change is hard because it requires us to let go. As a natural born planner, the more I invest in a particular course of action, the harder it is to abandon. But I have learned that when I cling too tightly to what was (even if it was only what I had planned), I cannot embrace what God has ordained.
“Come now you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord will, we will live and do this or that.’”
I can only grasp the temporary nature of this life, my plans, and all the changes I endure when I view it all through the lens of eternity. If we believe God is sovereign over all, we can accept that he not only allows every change we face, but that he also is able to use those changes for our good and the good of others who love him.
With every change of plans, we have a choice.
We can choose to work with God or against him. When we submit to his will and allow him to work in our lives through every change of plans we get to have a front row seat to experience his goodness, faithfulness, and steadfast love for his people. But that doesn’t happen if we’re too busy clinging to our past plans.
Every change of plans is an opportunity to exchange our plans for God’s plans. To let go of our desire for temporary pleasure and comfort and instead embrace his eternal salvation and transformation. Every change that knocks us down is an opportunity for God to build us back up into the women he created us to be.
Pause Because I’m a planner at heart, I have a tendency to race ahead of God and make plans before I have all the facts. But that only makes enduring change more difficult. I’ve learned to pause for a beat and let God get in front of me and lead the way.
Pray When change knocks us to our knees, we can begin there with prayer. It is OK to cry out to God with out disappointment; he can handle it. But he also promises to comfort us and guide us along the right paths.
Submit Trusting God’s plans are better than my own helps me to submit to his will for my life, no matter how my circumstances change. When we lay down our plans in favor of his, he will raise us up.
Dear Lord, I know you are sovereign over all, even military orders. Help me to trust that you have the best in mind for me when my plans change. Give me eyes to see how you are using every change to make me more like Jesus. Amen.