Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Not exactly what I had in mind...

I often wonder if the Lord gets a kick out of us making plans. I almost don't think we can help ourselves. We plot and scheme, sketch out timelines, imagine our future homes, families, jobs, lives. Oh yes, we come up with some grand plans. And the older I get, the more I realize that what we plan to happen, rarely does. Well, at least that is what I am realizing in my own little life. When I look at where Adam and I are right now, it does not look a whole lot like what I thought it would. For example:

I never thought we would live in Birmingham. Honestly, there was time when I was adamantly opposed to Birmingham. "Anywhere but Birmingham!" I had declared. I was resolved in this. And then Adam got accepted to the PT program at UAB. Of course. And in the middle of a teaching year for me, no less! I thought to myself, "Ummm...Lord. This is not exactly what I had in mind." In fact, I had specifically asked to go anywhere but Birmingham. But, as usual, the Lord had different plans for us. So we moved here. And much to my chagrin relief, I LOVE it here.

Now that we are on the other side of the decision to take up residence in the Ham, I can see that God was so clearly orchestrating what would become the next beautiful chapter of our life together. We immediately got plugged in to our incredible church , which just so happened to be less than a mile from where we were living at the time. Through our church, we got connected with our small group. This group of people has been one of the single most outstanding blessings the Lord has ever given us. I realize now that the Lord placed us with this group of people to teach us, in a very real way, that family can be more than just people you are related to by blood. I think this has resonated so powerfully for me because my biological family is so far away from where we live, and I do not get to see them nearly as often as I would like. This is hard for me, because I love my parents and my sister and her husband very much. And even though I know that the Lord has us in Birmingham right now, it hurts me to be the one who lives far away. And so the Lord provided for me. He surrounded us with a faith family, people who are brothers and sisters in Christ, people who have come alongside us in so many different ways and at so many different times to support us and love us. God knew I would need this in my life, and He was (and continues to be) faithful to provide it. God answered my, "Lord, this is not exactly what I had in mind," with His own, "Oh, I know. But isn't what I planned much, much better?" And it is.

This continues to be the pattern in my life. I never thought it would take this long for us to become parents. We are working on our sixth year of marriage, and it seems like we are long way off from having the pitter patter of little feet in our house. For me, this is a MUCH bigger, "Lord, this is not exactly what I had in mind." You see, I want a herd of kids. And I feel like time is just zipping on by and we are standing still. It gets pretty unsettling. It is so hard to wait. But it is in these moments that the Lord points to all He has orchestrated in our lives so far and reminds me that I have no reason whatsoever not to trust Him. God has proven Himself faithful time and time again, even when I have rebelled against Him or thought I would be better off without Him. Through all of that, He never lets me go. And I am so grateful for that.

I feel pretty certain that I am not alone in this. I imagine that there are a lot of people out there who are looking at their lives thinking, "Not exactly what I had in mind." I do it all the time. Still, right in the middle of that, I hope this encourages you. You are not alone. I think that the Lord must look at our plans and just shake His head. Our minds are far too limited to even dream about the incredible things He is planning for us. So when we look around and realize that life is not even close to what we originally planned, maybe we can experience a measure of relief instead of frustration. When I look back now and think about what life would be like if everything worked out according to my original plan, I literally shudder to think where we would be. Our lives would not be nearly as full as they are, we would not know the Lord the way we do and we would not be on path He created for us to follow. I think sometimes we are willing to settle for less simply because it is familiar. C.S. Lewis said it very well:

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased. 

God offers us so much more than what we can see. We need to stop being content with what the world is offering us, this idea of "normal." We need to move on to extraordinary, to the life God has called us to lead. It is not easy. I struggle with it way more than a true daughter of the Most High should. There are days when I feel like I just want a "normal life," because I think it would be easier. But I know that in my heart of heart's, the heart that listens to and knows the Lord, I know in that place that I do not want a normal life. I want a life that makes no sense, a life that could only have been designed by God. And so we are waiting. Waiting to bring a precious child home from Ethiopia, a child I already love so much that there are moments when I feel like my heart is actually going to pop. I want to make one thing perfectly clear. I am not doing this on my own. Oh no. My sinful self shrinks away from this, believing that I could somehow be perfectly content with what the world is offering me. It is Christ alone who gives me the strength to follow this path. So often, I want to pursue a different path, a path that doesn't ask as much of me. Jesus Christ keeps me from doing so. My trust is in Him.

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him." Psalm 28:7


P.S. New number coming your way tomorrow!

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