Ever have a day where nothing went according to your plan? A week. A month. A year.
It can be very frustrating when things don’t go the way we wanted them to. Both because we have an idea of how things should go, as well as because we don’t always know how to react when things don’t go how we thought they would.
Let’s face it, we like to plan things out and to see them go according to our plan. We like to be in control of when and how things happen. Which makes it frustrating and difficult when that doesn’t happen.
Last week I had a couple conversations that have really made me think. About my plans, my current circumstances, and my perspective of it all. They were good conversations, but also very challenging. One of them even was a bit of a reality check for me.
The first conversation was with a parent at my church. As we were waiting for a meeting to begin, we were sharing a bit of our stories with each other.
During this conversation, I shared how the past few years have been difficult, but this year in particular has been so in an interesting way. Toward the end of last year, it seemed to me as though my life was beginning to move in a certain direction. So I began to take certain steps based on what I thought was happening to prepare for this new direction in my life.
However, this year has become a year where what I thought was going to happen did not happen. And, ironically, the things that I had thought were not going to be a part of my life anymore ended up happening. The things I was asking God to show me how they would happen didn’t…and the things I thought weren’t going to happen so I stopped praying for them did.
It’s been a very weird year for sure.
After I shared this, the parent I was talking with shared some of their story with me. How they had moved a couple times to pursue some different ideas or opportunities, yet those things did not work out. And the place they are in now is the place they never thought they’d be. In fact, when it seemed that God was beginning to lead that way, they were upset at first and fought it.
But, the things that have been happening in their life now would never have happened had one of the other ideas or opportunities worked out, or if God hadn’t led them to where they are now. Even though they fought it and was upset, they can now see how God had worked things out.
That was encouraging to hear. And challenging.
The second conversation was with a young man who is currently going through Teen Challenge, which is an addiction recovery ministry. Last Sunday at church, some men from that ministry came to share their testimonies, and I had the honor of sharing the stage with them as I preached after they shared.
A couple days ago as I was running errands, I ran into one of them at the store doing some promotional stuff for the ministry. I went up and said hi and we talked for a few minutes.
As we talked, I mentioned that I do tree work full-time. He said that he used to do tree work, and he misses it. I responded and said that it’s not my favorite thing to do, but it’s my job at the moment. And I said it in a way that you knew I was complaining about it.
This young man then said to me “yea, but I’d rather be working a hard job than currently having to go through this program. But, as Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, there is a season for everything.” Talk about a reality check for me. Here I am complaining about having a job that’s not my favorite to a young man who would love to have a job but is currently having to work through some very difficult stuff. And, he reminded me of what the Bible says…wait a minute, I’m the pastor in this scenario, aren’t I supposed to be the one who quotes scripture.
Definitely a conversation that challenged me. And was a reality check for me.
These 2 conversations served as a reminder to have the right focus and perspective. Rather than complaining, I need to focus on what I do have and have a perspective of thankfulness. I also need to remember that God is leading me in the right direction even if it’s not what I have been thinking or expecting. He does know best, so I need to trust him.
Thankfulness for what I do have in the present, and trust that God is still in control and leading me in the right direction for my future.
How about you…
Is it easier to complain about your situation rather than see what God has given you?
Do you find it easier to focus more on the bad rather than the good in your life?
Maybe you had plans that didn’t work out the way you expected.
Perhaps your life doesn’t look like you thought it would, and you’re upset with him because of it.
If any of those are true of you…take heart, you are not alone. We’ve all had times where it’s a struggle to have the right focus and perspective, because we see the bad more than the good. We’ve all had plans that didn’t go the way we wanted, and it’s hard not to be frustrated. And we’ve all been in a place where we focused on that frustration rather than looking to see where God is leading.
When we are struggling, when life is frustrating and things aren’t going the way we planned, it is in those moments that we must stay focused on the truth. When life has us scratching our heads to just figure out how to even take another step, or which direction we are supposed to even go, we need to look to truth. We need to turn our focus back to God and his word…
Proverbs 16:9 says – The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Psalm 46:1-2, 10 says – God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way… Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
Genesis 50:20 – As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says – For everything there is a season
God is still in control. He is still guiding us along a path. He is not affected by the difficulties of this life…he is still God, and all we need to do is be still and remember that. We have plans we create and seek to implement in our life, but ultimately it is God who guides our way…and we need to trust him. Even when the difficulties in life are because of the evil done to us by someone else, God is still bigger than that and his plan is still being worked out. And we can remember that life is full of seasons…so after this season there will come another season.
As Followers of Christ, may you remember these truths as you seek to Simply Follow Jesus in this life. May that be your focus, and may it bring you comfort and strength and peace, even in the midst of difficulties you never imagined dealing with.
When things don’t go according to our plan, may we remember that God has a plan and things are still going according to his. We may never get it, or understand it, or honestly even like it…but we can trust him and know he is leading, and that he does know what is best.
*As I shared earlier, this year has been a year where everything has gone opposite what I thought or planned. And right now things in my life are exhausting, stressful, busy, and uncertain…so I need to focus on some things and allow others to take a back seat for the moment. And this blog is one of those things that didn’t go the way I was thinking (I had some cool plans for this, and so far it’s gone opposite than I planned), and I’m currently working so many hours between my 2 jobs (as well as potentially seeking a different full-time job) that I don’t have a lot of time or mental bandwidth to blog when I have moments of free time. So until further notice, I’ll be taking a break from this blog.
It will still be available…the blogs that are here can still be accessed and read, and the links to my books are still live. But there won’t be any new posts for the time being. As I continue to seek the direction God is leading me, and making sure I can give my time and attention to the things he is allowing to be in my life right now, I need to be smart and simplify some.
And perhaps, you need to do the same? Look at the plans in your life that haven’t happened as you thought, as well as what God is allowing to be in your life, and ask yourself if there are things you need to take a break from or even walk away from so that you can focus on what God is doing in your life.