Girlfriends in God - October 20, 2011


October 20, 2011
I Love it When a Plan Comes Together!
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare (Psalm 40:5, NIV).

Friend to Friend
Family vacations always begin with “the plan.” Before packing one sock or booking one hotel room, the Southerland family is summoned to a family meeting with one item on the agenda – a discussion of the vacation plan. Everyone has the opportunity to make suggestions and share ideas. My husband Dan and I then pool those ideas and make a final decision. Once the destination is chosen, Dan goes to work, charting every stop, logging the number of miles between stops, booking hotel rooms when we can’t take any more stops and locating favorite restaurants along the way. When our children were young and still living at home, we fell into a lovely rut as far as vacation spots go. Our favorite vacation spot tended to be nestled somewhere in the smoky mountains of North Carolina. Dan couldn’t wait to pack up our faithful old van, plug in the country music and hit the road! He claimed that just this side of the North Carolina state line he could actually begin to smell those mountains.

Over the years, every family member discovered a different reason for loving North Carolina. I was drawn to the quaint little towns filled with antique stores and smiling people. Dan loved the winding mountain roads and slower pace of life while our two children clamored to stop and play in the icy mountain water of every stream or creek they saw. However, their all-time favorite spot was Sliding Rock, a gigantic boulder that has been transformed into a huge water slide by the powerful falls above it.

Our first experience at Sliding Rock – when our son, Jered, was five and our daughter, Danna, was two - proved to be quite an event. Wiggling out of my arms, Jered ran straight to the rock, hurriedly plopped down,  squealing with delight as the chilly rushing water carried him over the frozen slab and into the icy pool at the bottom. Danna just watched; her big brown eyes wide with questioning fear as she witnessed her brother’s disappearance down the mountain. When Jered’s curly head popped out of the water, Danna’s face flooded with relief as she clapped and cheered for “Bubba.” Dan was next, whooping and hollering Texas style as he catapulted down the watery slide. Coming up for air he held out his arms and shouted, “Danna! Come with me!”

Now my daughter did not fully comprehend what was being asked of her but she undoubtedly did recognize who was asking – her daddy. To my amazement our usually tentative and fearful daughter rushed into the outstretched and familiar arms of her father, tightly clutching his neck as he positioned her in his frozen lap. Down they went!  I waited and wondered at the outcome. When they popped up out of the frigid pool, Danna was laughing and sputtering and begging, “We do it again, Daddy! We do it again!” Danna did not understand the plan but she knew and trusted the “plan maker”. 

We can do the same.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT).

God has a unique plan for each one of us that is beyond human understanding or expectation. It is called His will. God has been making His will known from the very beginning of time. In the Garden of Eden, God revealed to Adam and Eve His will or plan for their lives. It is important to note that with the revealed plan He also gave them the choice to obey because He is a loving Father and a gracious God. Knowing that His way was right, God still allowed Adam and Eve to choose the wrong way. They blew it by making the wrong choice - but He still loved them and forgave them. He will do the same for you.

The Bible promises that God’s plan is the best plan; the one for which we were created.  Psalm 32:8 “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.” God agrees to not only show us the plan, but He promises to provide all of the strength and resources needed to carry out that plan. His sufficient and constant power is unleashed by our choice to accept and follow His blueprint for victorious living.

We were created by the One who knows us best and loves us most. There are no accidents with God. He never has to say, “Oops!” Before we were ever conceived in the heart and mind of man we were conceived in the heart and mind of God - wanted, loved and planned since before the world began. He had a plan in mind and lovingly, purposefully created us in response to that plan. 

I know that there are days when the will of God seems completely wrong and we simply do not understand. Every moment is pregnant with darkness and our hearts are numb, paralyzed by fear and doubt. We are treading water in the storm tossed sea of life, desperately longing to see Him walking on the treacherous waves toward us, rescue in His hand. It is in those shadowed moments that we must choose to trust the Plan Maker even though our faith is small and we cannot understand the plan. His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. And one day, every one of our question marks will be yanked into exclamation points as we see that high plan as He sees it – perfect!

Girlfriend, set aside your meager agenda. Lay down your limited life arrangement and look for God to meet you at the point of surrender - power and victory in His hands.  Now that is a great plan!

Let’s Pray
Lord, I want everything you have for me in this life! I don’t want to settle for anything less than Your best. Teach me how to seek and follow You with my whole heart and how to fully trust You to direct my steps. Thank You for Your love and grace that completes me and fills my life with hope.
In Jesus’ name,

Now It’s Your Turn
Read Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

These verses contain three steps we must take in order to experience one promise that God will make our paths straight. Grab your journal and in your own words, explain what each step requires and what you think God means when He says that He will make our paths straight.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart_________________________________________
Lean not on your own understanding_________________________________________
In all your ways submit to him_______________________________________________
He will make your paths straight_____________________________________________

More from the Girlfriends
Want to be successful in your work? Check out Mary’s four-week study, Take This Job and Love It, to discover six principles from the life of the Proverbs 31 woman that will help you be successful in your work, no matter where you work or what your job may be. Study guide included.

Come as You Are, Mary’s NEW Online Bible Study, has just begun. Enroll now and have access to all 2011 lessons. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebookor through email.

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Originally published Thursday, 20 October 2011.