Are you a planner? Or are you more apt to take the “fly by the seat of your pants” approach to life? I fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I don’t plan out every detail of every thing, but I do find that I function better when I have a plan. It reduces my stress level and allows me to make the most of time, energy and resources. Some people can “go with the flow” pretty easily. Others are really thrown when things don’t go according to plan. I certainly don’t think there’s one right way…but there is a truth that we must learn in our walk with God. That is this: Regardless of how much we plan, it’s important that we learn to hold loosely to our plans. I have been reminded of this recently. My husband and I are fortunate enough to own two vehicles. For the last 10 years, I’ve driven a mini-van and my husband has a sedan that is 11 years old. I recall a few conversations we had last fall in which we expressed our delight that our vehicles, although getting old, were in good shape. Our plan was to keep each of them for another three years or so. So much for the plans of man! In October the engine failed on my van. It would have cost more to replace the engine that what the car was worth. Darn! So much for my plan!
Just last week my son was involved in a car accident. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Chris was sitting at a red light when a car plowed into the back of him. It pushed his car (actually my husband’s car) into the vehicle in front of him. Our car was totaled. Two for two; our cars were gone in what felt like the blink of an eye.
Brad and I had made a plan. We keep our cars for a long time. We take good care of them. We get the oil changed regularly, keep enough air in the tires, and drive carefully. Our plan should have worked. It wasn’t self-indulgent or extravagant. It was a reasonable, responsible, sensible plan. But our plan failed. Not the first time that’s happened, and I’m sure it won’t be last.
During this time, I have been reminded that something is more important than my plans. And that is God’s purpose. Scripture is clear that God’s purposes trump the plans of man.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)
During my walk of faith, I have learned that I can make plans, but I can’t hold on to them too tightly. I’ve also learned that when things don’t go according to my plan, God doesn’t want me to get caught up in reasoning, using my energy to try to figure out why my plan didn’t come to fruition. Instead, He wants me to trust Him. And as I lean into that posture of trusting Him, I shift from asking “Why?” to asking “What? What is it you want me learn? What will you teach me through this?” Sometimes I get a clear answer; something I can get my head and my heart around. In the situation with our car, I learned that God truly is my Jehovah Jireh, my Provider. Several weeks before my van died, my sister had purchased a new vehicle because they no longer needed a vehicle as large as their van. They had been looking for a place to donate their mini-van. (Believe it or not, it was difficult for them to give their van away!) When she heard about our situation, she offered it to us. All we had to do was to get it from California to Illinois. God provided in a way I had never dreamed!
Two days after my son’s accident, a friend showed up in the driveway with a vehicle for us to use. They have a van that they were able to do without for a time, and there she was…leaving it in our driveway and turning over the keys. “You’re welcome to use it until you find another car.” Again, I am reminded that God is my Jehovah Jireh.
I know that losing both our vehicles in a matter of a few months is not an earth-shattering crisis. But it was disappointing. And in that disappointment I could have focused on the loss, the inconvenience and the unexpected financial burden that we are faced with. A few years ago that’s exactly what I would have done. But this time I didn’t get bogged down in the disappointment. Instead, I asked this question, “God, what do you want to teach me?” The answer came. “I am your Jehovah Jireh. I will provide for you. I will take are of you.” Knowing God in a new way and growing in my capacity to trust Him are much more precious than the plans I had made.