Coming Into Focus

My brother and I like to joke around with my sister, Sunnie, about how she’s not spontaneous at all. She’s a woman who likes a plan, and while I respect that, it’s not always very much fun. Derek and I will go to the movies or to play putt putt on a whim. But when we invite Sunnie to go with us, it throws her off. It’s not how she had planned on spending her afternoon (a valid point and reason not to join), so she usually won’t do it with us. If she does go with us, she kind of takes a minute to just freak out.

One time, the three of us went to Mount Airy on a Saturday. I can’t remember if we went to see a movie or to shop in the local stores, but when we were done, I said to Derek, “We should go to Virginia.” (For those of you reading this who may not know, we weren’t far from the state line.) Derek thought it was a great idea. Sunnie, however, who was sitting in the backseat, was not so excited about it. Talk of how that wasn’t the plan commenced. Derek and I realized that it was causing her some anxiety, so we ditched the idea pretty quickly after that.

That was the day I learned just how much my sister doesn’t like deviating from a plan. She says that she’s working on it. Her first move, from what she’s told me, towards being more spontaneous was purchasing Linkin Park tickets three or four months in advance. (Don’t ask me how that’s spontaneous because I don’t really understand it, but it makes sense to her, and I suppose that’s all that matters. Plus, she’s very excited about it, and I love seeing other people get excited about things they love or look forward to.)

To clarify, while I enjoy the freedom of not always having a plan, I have no problems with making plans. Sometimes making plans is not only smarter, but really important as well. Making a plan for what I’m doing when I get off work tomorrow isn’t that big of a deal to me. Making a plan for where I want to be in the next five years of my life is a big deal to me, and it’s important if I don’t want to end up exactly where I am right now.

Maybe you have some big plans for the New Year, and I think that’s great. Your plan could be to eat healthier or travel more or work harder at achieving your dreams. Whatever it is, I’m sure you’re focused and you have a strategy.

But sometimes our plans don’t work out. I’m not saying that to discourage you. I’m saying it because it’s true, and to let you know that while it is true, life goes on.

I won’t bore you with the details (if you’re really interested, comment or contact me and we’ll chat), but suffice it to say that I’ve made plans, some significantly more important than others, that didn’t work out. Not only did I survive and am alive to tell you about it, but I can tell you that I’m actually better off because they didn’t work out.

I could go on and on about how my experiences have made me who I am and how I love who I am, which would be very true. I mostly say I’m better off because I’ve gained a lot of things from what actually happened that would never have happened if my original plans had played out. I wouldn’t have met a lot of the people I’ve met, I wouldn’t have grown as a person the way that I have, and I wouldn’t have learned some of the things I consider pieces of wisdom that God has shown me.

The reason it’s all worked out is because when my original plans crumbled, I’ve somehow managed (with immeasurable help of God, of course) to find another strategy while maintaining my focus. There have also been times when I’ve had to refocus because my heart and mind weren’t where they should’ve been.

2 Samuel 7 tells of a situation where King David’s plans didn’t work out, but everything turned out for the best. If you don’t have the time or energy to turn there, I understand. It’s a lot of reading, so I’ll summarize it here.

David was talking to Nathan, and he said how it didn’t seem right that he was living in this nice, cedar house while the Ark of the Covenant stayed in a tent. (Imagine sleeping in a five-star hotel while God’s down the road a bit in a sketchy motel whose biggest draw is that they have colored TV.) Nathan tells him to do whatever it was he had in mind and that God was with him. But that night, God tells Nathan to tell David that He hadn’t lived in a house since He brought His people out of Egypt, and He never complained about it. He tells Nathan to remind David of where God brought him from, how He’s always been with David, and how He’s handled David’s enemies. He says He’ll appoint a place for the Israelites to live. And He says that He’ll give David a family and establish David’s son’s kingdom. David’s son, not David, will build God a house, and he will be a son of God, and God will be a father to him.

Nathan tells David, and God’s words humble him. He recalls what all God has done for him and praises God. David proclaims God’s power and God’s love for His people, and he takes heart in God’s promises.

Nowhere in the story do we see that David is upset that he isn’t the one who is to build God a house. We know that he wanted to and probably had his heart set on it after Nathan gave him the green light to do so. But instead of being crushed that God doesn’t want him to do it, David praises God for what He’s already done for David and what He’s going to do through David and his son.

David’s plan changed, but his focus never did. His focus was on God and His will, and that’s exactly why it didn’t bother him in the least when God told him not to build Him a house.

It’s not our plans that matter as much as our focus.

When I think of my failed plans, I realize that maybe they were a little selfish. I didn’t exactly consult God before making them. Had I done so, I would’ve saved myself a good bit of heartache. I wanted what I wanted, and I didn’t consider God’s input until after my heart was already set on it.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t make plans that we actually want. We should. We should just consult God as well.

If your plans change, don’t worry about it. Even if it’s not part of your plan, it’s certainly part of God’s plan, and He’s not going to lead you anywhere He won’t go or that won’t benefit you. Sure, it may not be what you imagined. In fact, it probably won’t; it’ll more than likely be better. Take it from someone who’s learned that the hard way.

By Carrie Prevette

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