When God Changes Your Plans

Originally published Monday, 13 May 2013.

My son was scheduled for sinus surgery a month ago. Two days before the surgery, he received medical clearance from the pediatrician that he was healthy and ready to go. The day before surgery however, he came down with a high fever. Needless to say, I had to call and cancel the surgery.

Sometimes, God changes our plans. Just this past week I became sick and had to ask someone at the last minutes to take over my bible study at church. While I know that "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps" (Proverbs 16:9), I still get out of sorts when my plans are changed. I prefer to schedule things and know that they will take place. I like my life organized and without interruptions or delays.

But God knows better. He knows that what I don't need is a life that runs smoothly and is chaos free. He knows that for me to grow in holiness, I need my plans interrupted. Because while intense growth often happens in the depths of trial and suffering, most of our growth in faith occurs in the mundane of daily life.

It's in those small things, like cancelled plans or unexpected illness, where our holiness is forged. It happens when we are stuck in traffic, late to an appointment, and when we have to cancel a birthday party at the last minute because someone gets sick (done that!).

When we go along in our day and face an unexpected roadblock, we can fret, worry, and complain. We can become irritated with the slow clerk at the grocery store. We can blame the unhurried car in front of us for making us late. We can pull our hair out and stress over every inconvenience. Or we can submit to God's work in our heart and follow the new path he's brought us to. Remaining faithful, loving others when they don't love us, and trusting in the face of worry--these are the fruits of God's refining work through our daily circumstances.

Because we are sinful, it is hard to face the unexpected. Our natural response is to worry or become angry.This is why Jesus came. He lived a perfect life, faced every temptation we face, glorified his father in all the ordinary and mundane circumstances and trusted God's redemptive plan. He carried all our sins on the cross--each worry, every angry thought, and all our sinful responses to the challenges of life--and died to free us from doing life our own way.

So while we can continue to make plans and arrange our days, our hearts are not dependent on them. Rather, we rely on God's plan for our life. We believe that "for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). We trust his will and his sanctifying power in our lives. And because we are his children, we know that he disciplines us out of love (Hebrews 12:6).

When the first rays of morning shine its light in our bedroom window and we look ahead to the day's plans, may we prostrate our hearts before our Father, saying "not my will, but yours be done." As for my son's surgery, it's been rescheduled for this Wednesday, Lord willing. If you think of it, could you pray?