Learning to Trust in His Plan Instead of my Own
This past week has been a whirlwind. Two exams, a quiz, a date party, and three exams coming up next week, I was more than overwhelmed to say the least. Trying to make time to workout, spend time with my friends, and go to small groups along with studying for all of the tests had me as stressed as ever. I had been spending a lot of time consumed in planning, figuring out when exactly I was going to do all these things, writing out my day to every half hour. In my brain, this made a lot of sense. I was perfectly planning to ensure I was going to get done all of the things I needed to, leaving zero room for error. I felt like I was totally in control. Coming in to last Monday night, I was confronted with a decision. I had been studying for the majority of the afternoon and after dinner, had two different small groups to attend. Should I skip the small groups and continue to study? That would be the smart, practical choice right? I decided to forgo studying for a little bit and headed to the life group I’m in and then to a ministry called Delight. And WOW y’all, did God show up just when I needed Him.
Earlier that day I was on the phone with my boyfriend, Joe, telling Him how stressed I was about these exams coming up and how much pressure I was feeling to do well in order to keep my GPA high enough to get into nursing school this coming summer. After laying all my fears out on the table, he reminded me of a very important truth that my over-planning, control freak self often forgets. He brought up the fact that while I am so concerned about all this, that God sees the bigger picture and has a plan for my life. And that even when I think the plan in my head is going to be what’s best, what God has in store is bigger and better than anything I could come up with.
With this in mind, I put the homework aside and headed to life group & Delight. After contemplating not coming, I was blown away at what amazing conversations these small groups held. At Delight we read the testimony of a college girl in the Delight book and it related EXACTLY to all of the fears and thoughts I had been ruminating in all day. Surrounded by these amazing women, diving into His word, and being filled with such peace was precisely what I needed coming into these next few weeks. God knows exactly what we need, when we need it, and boy did He show up for me that night. One of my favorite quotes from Lily Joy’s testimony we read was ," When we start treating our days like assignments to be completed, we stop seeing the beautiful moments God has placed before us”. This truth hit me hard. As I had planned every day that week down to the half hour, what was I missing out on? There is so much beauty and joy to be found in spontaneity and sometimes simply taking time to breathe and walk around and admire God’s creation. By planning my days out so intricately, I was missing out on these beautiful moments. We weren’t meant to plan it all out and be in control of our days, God already has that taken care of. It takes trusting in Him and embracing His will for our lives to surrender and release some of that control we so often try to take hold of.
Lily Joy’s testimony was full of other amazing points and as I was sitting there reading and listening to the discussion everyone was having, I was in awe at how God never fails to provide when we need Him most. By talking to Joe earlier that day and deciding it was worth it to take a study break and go to Delight, He provided me with exactly what I needed to have peace and let go some of the anxiety I was feeling about the exams. Because of my over-planning, I was relying too much on myself and my own skills rather than on God to get me where I needed to go. This night reassured me that God always has my best interest in mind and by trusting in His plan rather than my own, I will go places I never imagined. Lily Joy states it best when she says, “When we ignore His gifts, thinking our goals are better, we miss out on the chance to live a life of wonderful adventure with God. He doesn’t call us to spend our days planning out every detail of our lives because at any moment, His plan could (and most likely will) alter everything we thought we knew. Living life with God means ending up somewhere totally different than where we expected to be”. Because I related so heavily to Lily Joy’s story of over-preparing and worrying about the future, this really stuck with me. I always say I am a person who loves adventure, but shouldn’t that include my life as a whole as well? I definitely do not have it all together and this was humbling to read and know that I need to continue to rely on God and simply see what He wants to do next. Maybe I’m supposed to get into nursing school this summer, and maybe I’m not. I know that all I can do is fix my eyes on Him and allow Him to work in my life and show me just exactly where He wants me to be. This isn’t easy, and clearly I struggle with it as I love to be in control, but there is so much peace to be found when you just lay down that need to be in control and give it to God. He has never failed us before, so why would He now? By relinquishing the idea of being in control of our lives to Him, we can rest in His presence knowing that He’s got us and will not let us down.
Another one of my favorite things Lily Joy shared was, “God doesn’t tell us the plans He has for us because He doesn’t want us enslaved by planning for our future, He wants us freely growing toward our future. When we choose to dwell in the presence of the Lord and allow Him to guide us and work through our lives, rather than being overwhelmed by the journey, we become astonished by His grace”. I loved how she used the word overwhelmed, because that is something in college I feel too often. Instead of being overwhelmed by the to-do lists and plans I have ahead of me, why not just rest in Him and be astonished by the grace He so freely gives? It is certainly easier said than done but by reading these words and hearing the rest of the girls in the small group talk about it, I was reassured and comforted by the fact that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed, but also that God can bring so much peace and fulfillment during those times. The plans He has for each of us are more amazing than our human brains can understand, and I truly am giddy thinking about all of the ways God is going to work through me, even in ways I couldn’t expect now. And the cool thing is, He wants to use each and every one of us. We just have to relinquish that idea of control and plans and trust in Him.
The last quote that really stuck out to me was, “Though it’s important to have a plan and work toward your goals, it’s also important to remember that God will change them and make them even better. Don’t get so stuck in your expectations of the way things should be in the future that you miss out on the beauty of what is happening in the present”. How often do we think of disappointments or set backs as God making the plan for our lives better? If I am being totally transparent and honest, I hardly ever do. We can’t see it now, but once we are on the other side of things, we can see how God worked in our lives and how even when we really wanted something to happen and work out, by it not, He brought something even greater into place. God always sees the bigger picture when we are just looking at a small piece of it and this is why it’s so crucial to trust in Him even when we don’t see things working out the way we planned for them to. I also love how she talks about expectations of the future. If you’re like me you have pinterest board after pinterest board regarding your future wedding, dream house, adorable pictures of puppies you’d like to own one day, and the perfectly curated content of families and kids smiling and laughing without a care in the world. We all have so many ideas and expectations of what we want our future to look like, but by focusing so much on this, we are missing out on what is happening now. During the first life group I was at, my friend Kathleen shared something that really stuck with me. She emphasized on the importance to “be where your feet are”, meaning to embrace the present and really see how God wants to use you here and now. I had been so focused on preparing and planning for everything ahead of me that I was missing out on the ways I could love on and be a light for Christ to other people right here, right now. Tomorrow is never promised, and it is clear God will change our plans according to His will, so why not focus on being in the present and embracing this beautiful life He has given us? This is something I am now going to have to focus on reminding myself daily, as it is definitely a huge struggle of mine.
I am so thankful that God continues to show up in my life, especially when I need Him most. I am thankful for the powerful but gentle reminders to stop obsessing over the plan for the future but to simply rest in His presence and trust in His greater plan. I’m thankful for Monday night life group & Delight, and the ways God works through the beautiful women in those groups. I’m thankful that no matter what I think the plans for my life will look like, that God always comes along and makes them better.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” Declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”