Our Plans and God’s Plans

A couple of months ago Laurie, one of the Christian Ministry in the National Park leaders, preached on the story of Abraham and Sarah.  Something that she said has really stuck with me, so I wanted to share it today, as Tom and I head out of Death Valley.

Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael away
Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael away

Abraham and Sarah believed God’s promise of descendants that would outnumber the stars.  But they also knew that Sarah was beyond child-bearing age.  So how would God fulfill his promise?  Abraham and Sarah decided that they should have a child through the young serving-woman Hagar.  Abraham impregnated her and Sarah intended to adopt the child, but Hagar lorded it over Sarah to the point that Sarah couldn’t stand to see Hagar or Ishmael, the child.  Abraham loved Ishmael and considered him the child of promise but finally gave in to Sarah’s nagging and sent Hagar and Ishmael away into the desert.

This is what Laurie said about the story:  “Abraham and Sarah were given a plan by God but they didn’t understand it, so they made their own plans.”  She then asked us to consider how many times we have not understood God’s plans and created our own plans instead.

One of the common sayings among full-time rv’ers is “plans set in jello.”  Tom and I have been considering where we are going after Death Valley.  We had intended to leave Scotty’s Castle on April 19, explore the west for a while and get back to Ohio by June 2, the date my nephew Jared graduates from high school.  Then we agreed to work an extra two weeks at Scotty’s Castle.  Then my sister and brother-in-law sold their house and set their moving date as May 23.  Tom likes to lift heavy things so we decided to move up our arrival to Ohio to May 22.  Then our boss here at Scotty’s Castle decided she had enough help through the end of April and we didn’t need to stay the extra two weeks.  So right now our plans are to leave Death Valley on April 22 and go to Las Vegas for a week to get some things done to the truck and RV and re-acclimate to civilization.  And that is it – for now.  Plans set in jello.

We act sometimes like God has one big plan for our lives and if we could just discover it, everything would be perfect.  We get frustrated with our lives and with God when things don’t work out the way we think they should.  But I think God’s plan for our lives is this:  love and serve God in all that we do and be willing to follow him for our whole lives.  This means that we can make many different choices and still be within God’s plan.

Maybe for Abraham, the keeper of the covenant, there was just one plan, but for most of us the plan can change and evolve over time.  We don’t have to understand all of it at the beginning of our lives in order to get it right.  We just have to be willing to follow one step at a time where he leads and we will end up where he wants us to be.  If we are willing to follow, the plan might be changing, evolving over time and over our lives.  The plan might be different when we are in our 20’s than it is when we are in our 40’s, our 60’s, our 80’s.  But we can still follow one step, one day at a time.

There will always be things about God’s plan that we don’t understand and it’s okay.  When we follow faithfully, step by step, willing to take a different path when he leads, we will end up where God wants us to be.