Sunday, March 2, 2014

My plans vs. God's plans

My children’s message for church got hijacked by a bowling disaster.

It was my intention to talk about marbles, salt, and confessing our sins to each other. I know, that sounds strange, but there was a plan. 

I had the verse:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16, ESV)

I had my jar with marbles buried in salt. I even practiced pounding the jar on the floor to make the marbles rise to the top. I was ready to explain that when salt does what salt is designed to do it slips around the marbles and into air pockets and this causes the marbles to rise to the top.

I was ready to explain how we are good at breaking things, like friendships and promises, but we are not so good at fixing things. But, when we do what God designed us to do, when we confess our sins and pray, God brings healing. 

The message was short and sweet and I was ready for anything except the delightfully wandering minds of three-year-olds.

An absolutely adorable child leaned toward me and said “Teacher, guess what?” 

I took the bait and the first story about bowling commenced, followed quickly by five or six more, all spoken simultaneously. 

The effect was suggestive of a preschool class speaking in tongues. There was lots of noise and hand waving. Then someone left to use the restroom. It was a five minute children’s message and I completely lost control.

Although, when you are sitting in front of church with a group of a couple dozen pre-schoolers, “control” is not usually the word that comes to mind.
I am pretty sure I could hear the pastors stifling a snicker from behind the lectern.
I scrambled to find a way to connect bowling with repentance, prayer, and forgiveness. I scrambled to no avail. And yet, somehow, God brought a message for His little ones out of our bowling disaster.  And, again, I had to remind myself that even when I am doing the talking, the children are probably still thinking about bowling and the Spirit still does His work in spite of us.

God just asks us to do what He designed us to do: repent, pray, praise, love, trust, obey . . .

I thought I had this dissertation thing planned.  I quit my assistantship at the University so I would have more time to write.

Then I lost a teaching contract and had to recruit more work.

I got a chance to teach for the University and set about setting up a schedule for writing.

Then I broke my arm.

I got the cast off, did my exercises, and started writing, again.

Now, my doctor thinks I may need more surgery to release pressure on the nerve.

I planned, by this point, to be done with my proposal and to be busy collecting data, but my plans have been hijacked by life, by my clumsiness, by my trust in my own ability to make plans happen. So, here I am with an arm that types for a limited amount of time each day, with dictation software that doesn’t yet understand psychology vocabulary (that makes two of us) and a huge project waiting to be finished. I have my own sweet version of a children’s message bowling disaster. 

So what do I do? I believe it is simple; I do what God designed me to do. I repent, pray, praise, love, trust, obey . . . 

God’s love and His will for me and my project will slip into the pockets of my disaster and lift me up to Him. He knows the plan. He knows how it will be accomplished, and even why it should be accomplished.

Lord, help me do what you designed me to do.

We have all become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
    and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls upon your name,
    who rouses himself to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
    and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
    we are the clay, and you are our potter;
    we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:6-8 ESV)

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV)


fondy said...

One of my favorite quotes from a pastor friend, "The problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar." Submitting to His plan and keeping our eyes on Him is a daily/hourly learning,

Kim Marxhausen said...

I LOVE that quote - now I have a whole new image to keep in mind.