There is an old Jewish saying that goes something like this, “Man makes his plans and God laughs”. Many times our lives feel like this. We create our short and long term plans. What will we do in five years? What about ten years? How many children will we have? Where do we want to live? What will we do when we retire? Will we be able to retire? We dream, plan and purpose ourselves toward whatever goals we have for ourselves and our families.
When I was younger, I watched a television show called “The A-Team”. It was a program of wrongly accused, on-the-run military convicts who fought for the side of good, while trying to discover why they were framed for their crimes. The leader, Hannibal Smith, made the plans for his team in each episode. In almost every episode, when his plans worked, he lit a cigar, smiled and said, “I love it when a plan comes together.” Decidedly, when our plans work out to our benefit, we light our figurate cigar, smile, pat ourselves on the back and say, “I love it when my plan works out.” But what about those who make plans and it doesn’t work out for them?
This past year has been one gigantic roller coaster ride, filled with ups and downs. Some have been fun, while others not so much. I have experienced the gamut from exhilarating joy to unspeakable sorrow. If ever there was a year to make me think and reflect on life, this was that year.
Over the past year, I had been making plans for various things. I desired to start planning to vacation with my wife for a couple of days in Bermuda for our 20th wedding anniversary next year. I also had begun making plans on what will happen when I retire. How would we live? Where would we live? How would this affect our boys? The plans I was making were simple, to live our lives quietly doing the things we want to do while living a relaxed life. Sounds good, right? Well, God decided to laugh at my plans.
This year was a time of bewilderment, excitement and fear. Bewilderment because my wife was expecting our 3rd child. Excitement because my wife was expecting our 3rd child. Fear because my wife was expecting our 3rd child. Why would God allow this? What about my plans for retirement? How about my plans for our 20th anniversary? How would this fit together? It seemed all of my plans had just been whisked away, erased from the “book of my future”.
You see, my family is what some would call “older”. My eldest, is sixteen and is a junior in high school. He has been asking me when he will be taking his driving permit test. He is eager to get out there and discover what the world is like. (Very much like me when I was his age.) To him, it doesn’t matter if we have the budget for another car, he just wants to drive so that he will “be free” from being in the house all the time.
My 2nd child is eleven getting ready to enter junior high school. He is discovering the joys of being involved in his school. At the same time, he also does things that boggle the human mind. His mind is being pulled in many directions so he has a tendency to “forget” his chores or homework. Things we tell him will be forgotten almost instantaneously. What is ironic about this is that his friends are the exact same way. It’s like aliens came down, sucked out all the gray matter between their ears and placed an auto erase function for when a parent speaks. I call this the “dopey” stage of life.
With all of this going on, God decided it was time for another child to enter our world. We had found out last year that my wife was expecting our 3rd child. I had noticed that my wife had a bizarre craving, lemons. She had always loved making lemon water, but this time was different. One evening, she had cut a lemon in half and started to enjoy the juices directly from the fruit. This automatically triggered a question because she had this same behavior when she was pregnant with our eldest son. A few nights later, at 4:oo A.M., my wife took a pregnancy test and found out she was pregnant.
This wasn’t in our plans. We had our two boys and life was going well for us. Now what was going to happen? (Isn’t that a funny question? We are raising 2 boys and yet, I asked myself this very question. It’s not like I don’t know how to change a diaper…) Not only were we dealing with the challenges of being a parent of a teenager and the dopiness of a pre-teen, but now, we were going to lose sleep and have to deal with this all over again. On March 13, 2014, our third son was born. Let the diaper changing begin…..again!
With all of this happening at once, my mindset wasn’t quite right. I had looked at my present and based on a future that had not occurred yet. My past was set, my present known and my future a complete mystery. This placed in me a very uncomfortable feeling. For those that know me personally, they know that I like control. I love the rush of planning and executing those plans. The exhilaration of seeing my plans coming to fruition cannot be completely explained in words. I am a control freak. I despise the unknown, especially the unknown future.
My mind had become not only confused but anxiety ridden. “I’m a lot older than when the other two were born. How are we going to survive this? How are we going to be able to afford the diapers and formula?” These questions riddled my mind and boggled my senses. I had allowed my fears and anxiety to overtake the realization that we had done this twice before. This was familiar ground. Why was I so confused and anxious? The answer was simple. I allowed the sin called “pride” into my life.
Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (NASB)
1 John 2:16 says, “For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.” (NIV)
Little did I realize that pride had snuck its way into my life and the trail of destruction it brings was coming. The questions I had raised were not real. I had looked at my circumstances, my dreams and goals and decided that life was chaotic and order-less. Because pride entered my mind, my body and spirit followed. I let my devotions and prayer time lack. I concentrated on my fears rather than my Father.
As fear and anxiety was trying to control me, I was reminded of these two passages which clearly show that God is in control and knows what He is doing:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
“’For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” – Jeremiah 29:11
Was God going to let me down? No. Was God going to forget me? Certainly not. Was God going to supply all my needs as He sees them? Absolutely and a resounding yes. The proof of this is what happened in the months to come before my wife gave birth.
As we had decided not to have any more children, we had gotten rid of everything. Crib, gone. Clothes, donated. Toys, trash. We thought to ourselves, we don’t need these anymore so why keep them. The only item that we did not get rid of was a stroller that we had bought when my eldest son was born. Again, fear and pride tried to take over. This time, I refused them access to my life. God was in control and knows what He is doing.
Before my wife went into labor, she was surprised with a baby shower. This was the first time she was actually surprised. (Every other time, she figured things out.) Out of that party, all our needs were met. We were supplied with diapers, formula, clothes and any other baby item you can think of. In fact, we were overwhelmed with the assortment of baby items we were given.
It has been nine months since Nathan was born and all of our needs continue to be met. Formula and diapers have been fully paid for. God is so good to us and He showed us that time does not matter for Him. When He says He is going to do something great, He does it and overflows our life cup with His blessings.
Our lives are not our own. We set goals, dream of our future, but ultimately God is in control and what His plans are for us are better than the ones we create. To have our “greatest life”, we need to submit to His authority, ask for His goals for us and live the lives He has determined in advance for us to live. His plans are there to enhance our lives, not hurt them. His goal is to share His Son with the world. What is better than watching someone come to the realization that they are a sinner, saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ? The greater the sinner, the greater the worshipper once saved!
Don’t do what I did. Learn from my mistakes and errors. Pride led me to be a control freak which led me to fear and anxiety. Salvation led me to the cross which led me to eternal life, joy and peace. As a sinner saved by Jesus Christ, I am still prone to allow pride to take over. However, our minds are renewed by reading Scripture and spending time with our God and Father. This then will lead us to be able to say to pride, “Away from me Satan.”
Concentrate on the cross and life will be filled with joy and happiness even within the trials and tribulations. This life is temporary and short. Why waste our time worrying about the future? Let’s all set our eyes on Christ and what He has done. His work is eternal, ours temporal. His promises are right and true. Our words are filled with sin and pride. When we focus on what Christ has done and what He has planned for us, we will forsake our own thoughts, goals and dreams and take His on. Once we do that, life becomes an adventure instead of a burden. Make a decision today not to worry about “Driving, Dopiness and Diapers”. Allow your thinking to focus on our “Daddy” who loves and cares for us, even when we decide to sin. He knows what He is doing. He did create the entire universe. I think He has a handle on our problems.
God bless and encourage someone today.