Monday, April 20, 2015

When life isn't what you planned

Beautiful actresses. Famous athletes. Well-known politicians. Super-skinny models. Wealthy, powerful businessmen. These groups of people share fame, renown, and riches. Our culture looks to them as leaders. They seem to have it all. They have risen to the top of their trades. They have it all together. Or so it seems.

Does anyone really have it all together? I have been thinking about this lately. My main question: Is anyone living the life they planned?

I had dreams and plans. Maybe they were childish; maybe they were ignorant. But, I had made plans for my life while I was growing up. I would go to college, meet a husband, get a job, have kids, and live happily ever after. My dreams got more specific as I got older, and I learned a little bit about the world. My husband would work at a great job, but he would be home every night for supper and on the weekends. I would work as a teacher while beautifully balancing life as a mom too. We would live close enough to my family so they could babysit occasionally. Life would just go along seamlessly as my wonderful husband, who always would agree with me, and I raised our family.

For those of you that know me, you know that very little of my plans actually happened. I married a wonderful man, but his job did not fit my ideal mold. He's a farmer, the job that is the very definition of unpredictable, long hours. We have two amazing kids, but we live 9 hours away from my family. So, that idea about babysitting is out the window too. I became a teacher but gave that career up to stay at home with my kids. I never thought I would do that! It was not part of the plan.

Am I the only one living a life that was not planned? What's a girl to do?

As always, I go to the Word. In the New Testament, we find a pretty good example of someone else whose life did not go as he planned it. The apostle Paul is my guy. Paul began his adult life as an adamant persecutor of Christians. Jailing and killing Christians was his life's mission. But, as so often in our lives, God intervened. Saul had a run-in with God, and he was never the same.  Therefore, the life he had planned was majorly transformed.

Much of the scripture that Paul wrote was penned while he was in prison. Incredibly, he was still able to offer up encouragement, teaching, and guidance to the people he ministered to and to us today. As a result of God interfering with Paul's plans, Paul wrote a majority of the New Testament.

The passage of scripture that spoke to me about this subject is found in Philippians chapter 4. Paul wrote this message to the Christians in Philippi while he was in jail; however, he is able to offer some words of encouragement to those of us who wonder what happened to all of our plans and dreams. Paul says, "I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little" (Philippians 4:11-12). How does he do this? What is his secret?

Searching the passage further, I think the secret is found in two parts.
  • First Secret: verse 13. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Paul realized that the secret to living a content life is full dependence on God. He knew that even while he was imprisoned, God was working, and God was taking care of him. This is a popular verse, but I don't think we Christians always believe it. Too often, fear keeps us in our safe "plans" and stops us from living a full, adventurous life. We settle for the life we had planned instead of taking God at His word and allowing Him to transform our lives, just like he did for Paul.
  • Second Secret: verse 19. "And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus." Paul knew that true contentment comes from allowing Jesus to meet all of your needs. God's "glorious riches" are infinite. He can give richly to me and still not be depleted at all. Eventually, money runs out. Health fails. Beauty fades. Houses fall apart. But God's everlasting riches are eternal. Belief in Christ Jesus secures these riches for us. That verse says they have already been given to us. This is Paul's secret! He knew God well enough to know that anything God had to offer him was far better than he could have planned.
How can we apply this today? That's what I've been wondering. Obviously, my life is not nearly as tough as Paul's. And most of you would probably say the same. So, why do we dwell on what our lives could have been? Why do we daydream about our old plans?

Too often we allow our sight to settle on our current circumstances. Something goes wrong or makes us uncomfortable, and we start wondering how we could have done better. When times get tough, I am guilty of this. I focus on the problems instead of seeing how God is already at work in them. We just have to remember Paul's secret. It can be our secret too.  Allow this scripture to whisper in your ear and heart, as it has mine.  Let God intervene and transform our normal, ho-hum plans. He will put in our hearts new, exciting God-dreams. His plans our better than ours. Always. To quote another verse penned by Paul, "Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20). Amen.

I've linked up with #IntentionalTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, and #TellHisStory this week. Check out these great websites!

6 comments:

  1. I loved this post Kristen. It seems to be just what I needed to read, as several posts have had this same theme! Thank you for these wonderful reminders from Truth!

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    1. Thanks, Ellen! Glad it spoke to you!

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  2. Kristen, I too am living a much different life than I planned. I never thought how I shared this in common with Paul, but I do believe God's plans are better than mine ever were. But on those days when I long for the life I pictured, I remind myself of the blessings I never would have experienced if God had answered my limited prayers.

    Thank you, Kristen, for sharing your heart at #IntentionalTuesday on Intentionally Pursuing. : )

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    1. Good reminder: count your blessings! Thanks, Crystal!

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  3. Thank you for these verses today. I am encouraged to trust Christ to meet my needs in this moment. To provide his glorious riches of grace for the needs that gape at my feet. Grateful. Visiting from #TellHisSTory.

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    1. Awesome! He is big enough! Thanks, Ginger!

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