A few weeks ago, as my daughter and I sat with our feet in the surf and the late afternoon sun sank toward the ocean, our conversation turned to her future plans. She is starting her college senior, and while she has a general idea where she wants to be and what she wants to do, the specifics are vague enough that there is still room for ambiguity. I listened to her throw out various possibilities—stay in Birmingham, move to another city, specialize in this particular area, go to graduate school. I could hear the strains of anxiety running through her words. The future, while bright, is uncertain.
Isn’t this true of all of us? Each day brings something new. The unexpected is always lurking ominously around the corner, just waiting to throw us completely off the meticulously crafted path we’ve planned. Occasionally, the unexpected brings us a wonderful surprise, but for those of us who prefer smooth sailing to choppy waters, any disruption can be unwelcome if it throws us off course.
I completely understand my daughter’s concerns. I am the queen of security, after all. I like knowing exactly what’s going to happen next and when it’s going to happen. I can face anything, as long as I am safe—physically, financially, and emotionally. I am not a person who thrives in the midst of chaos.
As a Christian, however, I am uncomfortably aware that my desire to maintain complete control over my surroundings and my future is sinful as well as futile. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand (Proverbs 19:21, ESV). I struggle daily to let go of the tight grip I have on my plans, even though I can point to countless times that God’s purposes have prevailed over my own.
And His plans are always better.
That is not to say, of course, they always result in an easier or less painful path. But God’s purpose is always to increase our faith in Him. The only faith that grows when we refuse to relinquish control is our faith in our own abilities, and that is a confidence that will prove to be completely inadequate in the face of a devastating medical diagnosis or an unimaginable loss. His way is better, even when we can’t understand it or we don’t particularly want it.
As my daughter and I talked through different scenarios for her future that day on the beach, I reflected on my own past year. I realized that so many things happened that I couldn’t have imagined a year ago—new opportunities that opened up, new friendships that enriched my life in immeasurable ways, success in endeavors that I had no idea existed. It occurred to me that when we hold tightly to our plans, we risk missing the blessings God has in store for us if we trust Him. In the last year, God had given me gifts for which I didn’t even know to ask.
Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you (Psalm 9:10, NIV). Jesus says, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20, NIV). God, through Jesus and through the Holy Spirit, tells us over and over, “Trust me. If you trust me, I will not leave you.” Considering that my own judgement is frequently so unreliable, the amazing thing is that I would ever trust in my own strength over that of the God who created the universe!
We have been given this day, this moment, to live as a child and heir of the Almighty God. We truly do not know if we will have another. Only by trusting in the goodness of God can our future be transformed into one that glorifies our Creator—complete trust in His purposes, no matter what happens.