“It’s not about figuring out the mysteries of God, but embracing Him and cherishing Him – even when He doesn’t make perfect sense to us.”
Eight years ago, I was living in Georgia with plans to find a job and move to Colorado. I love Colorado and wanted to move closer to my family and get out of the heat of Georgia. Six months later I was moving to Burkina Faso, which had definitely not been in my plans. It is much farther away from my family, gets quite a bit hotter than Georgia and stays hot most of the time. Moving to Burkina may not have been in my plans, but I am grateful for the opportunity to live and serve here. I love living here, the people I get to serve with and the ministry I get to be a part of. Even though this move hadn’t been part of my plans, from the time I started praying about and pursuing the opportunity, I was excited about the new plans God had for me. However, I don’t always have this same response when life doesn’t work out according to my plans or the way I think it should. Sometimes I see right away why God is doing the things He is and may even get excited about it; other times it takes a while before I see why He’s doing things the way He is. Then there are some situations for which I am still waiting to see why God is doing (or did) things the way He is. However, whether I can see the reasons or not, I always want to have the attitude of, “God interrupt whatever [I am] doing so that [I] can join you in what You’re doing.” (Francis Chan)
Living in Burkina has taught me quite a bit about schedules, programs and life not going the way we plan. Every year we go to a specific region of Burkina to construct a hangar for a newly planted church amongst an unreached people group. Last year, on the evening we arrived, we were informed the chief in the village where we were supposed to construct the hangar had changed his mind and he no longer wanted the Christians to have a church structure there. Plans quickly changed and we constructed a hangar in another nearby village. As we were preparing to go back to this same area last month, I began to think of how things didn’t go as planned last year and wondered what would happen this trip. Thankfully, everything went as planned and we were able to leave with another hangar completed for a newly planted church of forty believers. While there, we were also told the village chief who wouldn’t let us build a hangar for the believers in his village last year, now wants one. Last year when we were told we couldn’t build a hangar for the believers, I wondered how God would use that situation in the future. I don’t always view situations like these as opportunities for God to do amazing things to bring Himself glory. Many times, rather than thinking about how God can use changed or interrupted plans, I get frustrated or question why God is allowing things to happen.
For at least the last six months now, we have been working on details for English classes a team is coming to teach next week. This week I made a call to confirm all the details and found out the place where we will hold classes has changed, we will now have twice as many students and each class is for one day instead of two. Three days before the team arrives and now there are many details that need to be reworked and taken care of. It is a situation where I can get frustrated and start worrying about how everything is going to work out or I can choose to trust God, that He has a plan, that He is in control and that He can work out all the details without my help.
The reality is – plans, schedules, desires, dreams and life don’t always go the way we want or the way we think they should. It could be something as small as details not going as planned or being sick at an inconvenient time. Or it could be something more serious like a loved one dying or terrorist attacks and other terrible tragedies that happen around the world. It is in moments like these when I don’t think life makes sense and I sometimes question what is going on. Instead, I need to remember life isn’t about my wants, my plans or my little kingdom. It is about God – His plans, His glory, His kingdom. I need to remember, “[Jesus] didn’t come to exercise [his] power to make [my] little kingdom work, but to welcome [me], by grace, to a much better kingdom than [I] could ever quest for on [my] own.” (Tripp). So, I try to constantly remind myself: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, right here, right now, in my life” and work on trusting Him completely.
The last two and a half years God has been teaching me to trust Him in a whole new way. I may not always understand why He allows things to happen, chooses to do things the way He does or why He answers prayers as He does. However, I am learning to trust God more than what I understand, more than what makes sense and more than my plans, feelings, desires, wants and dreams. I regularly remind myself, “I trust Him. I trust His heart. I trust His plan.” So, when life seems out of control, when I wish life were different, when I don’t understand what God is doing, I need to remember that even in these moments, He is on His throne, He has a plan and He is in control. I need to choose to celebrate all that He is doing instead of grieving or complaining when things don’t go as planned or I don’t get my way. I need to meditate on verses like Philippians 2:14 “Do all things without complaining …” and James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
I am challenged by these words from Paul David Tripp: “So, be careful how you make sense of your life. What looks like a disaster may in fact be grace. What looks like the end may be the beginning. What looks hopeless may be God’s instrument to give you real and lasting hope. Your Father is committed to taking what seems to be bad and turning it into something that is very, very, very good.”
The song below brings me encouragement when life seems a little out of control. I love to be reminded that I can go to God with questions and I can wrestle with Him. And even while I am wrestling with Him, I can choose to trust Him because I know He hears me, He is kind and He cares for me even when I cannot see it. It is because of this that I can choose to praise Him even when things aren’t going my way or when life doesn’t seem to make sense.
Weep With Me (Rend Collective)
Weep with me
Lord will You weep with me?
I don’t need answers, all I need
Is to know that You care for me
Hear my plea
Are you even listening?
Lord I will wrestle with Your heart
But I won’t let You go
You know I believe
Help my unbelief
Yet I will praise You
Yet I will sing of Your name
Here in the shadows
Here I will offer my praise
What’s true in the light
Is still true in the dark
You’re good and You’re kind
And You care for this heart
Lord I believe
You weep with me
Part the seas
Lord make a way for me
Here in the midst of my lament
I have faith, yes I still believe
That You love me
Your plans are to prosper me
You’re working everything for good
Even when I cannot see