October 13, 2017
Years ago, I threw a surprise birthday party for my 12-year-old daughter, Lizzy. I baked her favorite cake and picked out decorations in her favorite colors. I planned an afternoon filled with her favorite activities and invited her favorite friends to be a part of my sneaky scheme. I orchestrated every detail with care and anticipated my daughter’s delight with quiet excitement.
But when the day of the party arrived, my tween’s mood didn’t mirror my own. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one who had dreamed up a birthday plan. My 12-year-old had devised one, too.
“I want to go to the movies with my friends this afternoon,” the birthday girl announced as we lingered over breakfast on her special day. “Will you drive us to the theater, Mom?” I wished I could explain my answer, but I took a deep breath and prayed my daughter would trust me. Then, I replied with a kind but firm “no.”
Lizzy’s disappointment was palpable. She instantly accused me of being uncaring and unfair, and she spent the rest of the morning pouting in protest. However, I refused to be swayed by her petulant pleas, because I knew what my daughter didn’t — my present “no” was protecting my future “yes.” And, ultimately, my plans for my birthday girl were good.
Later that day, when my disgruntled diva waltzed through our front door right into the middle of her own surprise party, she traded her grousing for a grin. And as a noisy rendition of "Happy Birthday” filled the room, she suddenly understood the reason for my “no.”
My daughter flashed me an apologetic gaze and exhaled a sheepish giggle. Then, before she raced off with her friends, she returned that one-armed hug. “Thanks for spoiling my plans today, Mom,” she said. “Yours were even better!”
It’s been years since I orchestrated that surprise event, but I often find myself thinking about that day when my own plans don’t unfold as I’d hoped. When I’m praying for open doors, yet they remain closed; when I’m pleading for a “yes,” but the answer is “no”; when I’m asking for change, but everything seems to stay the same. I remind myself of the truth that my daughter once learned: A frustrating “no” may be setting the stage for a forthcoming “yes.”
After all, we have a loving Father who knows things we don’t. And sometimes, He needs to “wreck” our agenda in order to render His.
Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that, ultimately, God’s plans for us are good: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
It takes faith to believe that promise when life isn’t going as we’d expected. But I’m learning that we don’t need to understand all of God’s ways to accept His will. We simply need to trust His heart. The Bible reminds us God is love (1 John 4:8), and God is kind (Psalm 116:5). God is for us, not against us (Romans 8:31). When we remember who God is, we can more readily embrace what He’s doing, even if He says “no.”
God’s plans won’t always mirror ours. And sometimes His ways surprise us. But I believe that, someday, when we look back at our lives through eternity’s lens, we’ll want to throw our arms around our faithful Father and say, “Thanks for spoiling my plans, Dad. Yours were even better!”
Dear Jesus, I want to trust You even when things aren’t going as I’d imagined they would. Give me faith to believe Your plans for me are good, and show me how to use Your “no’s” as opportunities to grow. Fill me with hope as I wait for your perfect plans to unfold. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 138:8, “The LORD will work out his plans for my life — for your loving-kindness, LORD, continues forever. Don’t abandon me — for you made me.” (TLB)
Proverbs 16:1, “People go about making their plans, but the Eternal has the final word.” (VOICE)
As the holidays are quickly approaching, Proverbs 31 Ministries has created “In Every Season: The 21-Day Gratitude Challenge” to take you on a journey toward cultivating gratitude in everyday life. This set of cards has space to respond to a daily prompt on one side, and a beautifully designed verse on the other side. Click here to learn more.
Once we have faith in God, how should we be living, and where can we find the wisdom we need to live the way God has called us to live? During the next First 5 study, “Living Faith: The study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, James and 1, 2 & 3 John,” you’ll learn not just what faith is, but how to live out your faith. The study starts October 23. Find out more and order your Experience Guide here!
For more encouragement, and for your chance to win a surprise party in a box, join Alicia Bruxvoort at her blog today.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
We can’t trust a God we don’t know. What’s one thing you can do this week to get to know your Heavenly Father more?
What “no” from the Lord has caused frustration for you lately? How could that “no” be an invitation to grow?
© 2017 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.
Originally published Friday, 13 October 2017.