"I have small dreams," I told my parents as I prepared to graduate from high school. Being a planner, self-suffient and responsible, my way was carefully mapped before me. College. Marriage. A family. Security. In that order. If I did not deviate from my well laid plans, all would go as predicted.
So, that is precisely what I set out to do. Determined and focused, I calculated my steps carefully, my goals fixed firmly in my rational mind. Selecting Iowa State University, I committed myself to my studies and earned my degree. I fell in love with a wonderful young man and joyfully took his hand in marriage. Things were going just as I had planned. Yet, two careers, a move out of state, three kids, and eighteen years later, my dreams have changed. For I have learned that things don't always go the way I plan.
To penetrate my stubborn will, God has to shake my plans. Sometimes life throws a curve and forces me to evaluate my position with God's eyes. At times, when my plans have failed and all hope seems lost, I have found myself feeling a bit like Job. In disappointing setbacks I painfully groaned, "my days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart." (Job 17:11 NIV) In trial and error, I have discovered that the only path that truly matters is God's. However, if I am to travel His path, I must abandon mine and trust Him alone. And that sounds easier than it truly is most of the time. Especially for a Type A control freak like me!
Some days I wonder in anticipation. Others I wait more impatiently, as I linger out of my comfort zone. But at all times, I watch expectantly for my Heavenly Father has big dreams for me. After all, God assures me that "I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11) It is a promise I keep near to my heart and it sustains me as I let go of my empty dreams and embrace a life rooted in Christ.
In the past year, God has changed my plans in countless ways, planting a new dream in my heart. I have stepped out of teaching and taken my place in writing ministry. I have abandoned the security of my comfort zone at home and embarked on an international mission trip to Austria. And I have stopped making plans, choosing instead to look to God as He reveals His dream for my life.
So as midlife slowly closes in, my path in life has turned. No longer are my dreams determined by what is small, secure, and safe. Instead, I have made a decision and I am willfully sticking to it. Indeed, I choose to "live by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV)
In this fallen world, we often fail to remember that God continuously sits on his throne. Despite the roadblocks of life, God never ceases to direct our steps as we look to Him and entrust Him with our lives. Though we see only what is right in front of us, God sees our lives with a bird's eye view.
He is never shaken or surprised and He never makes mistakes. Even more amazing, God takes our missteps and weaves them into something beautiful for His glory. And we are assured that "many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21 NIV)
We need not fret when life changes course. It just means that God has changed our plans.