Planning is not my strong point. Though my calendar might be bursting with colorfully recorded upcoming events, actually preparing for said events usually happens at the last minute. High school graduation of my youngest child? Noted weeks ahead! Plans for family and friends visiting that weekend? Ummmmm… Right. Trip to Mexico to teach a class? Highlighted in yellow! Assignments for the students to complete ahead of time? Wait. What?
Nope, planning is definitely not in my DNA. Still, when I think about long-range plans – where I’ll be in the next five years, what ministry I’ll be involved with or what country I’ll be living in – I definitely like to have, if not a plan, at least a firm sense of the direction I’m headed. That’s what makes surrender so hard for me – surrender as in the sermon illustration about “writing God a blank check” with your life. Know that one?
First, you picture your future, all your hopes and dreams, as contained in an account of some sort. Then you simply sign the check and hand it over to God for Him to do whatever He wants. In theory, I am in total agreement with that idea. But when it comes right down to it, I’m going to pull out my pen (or better yet a permanent marker) and jot a little note in the memo line of that check just to be sure God knows exactly what my idea of that future should be! Highlighted in yellow!
Ridiculous, isn’t it? As if I could, or should, control my future! Looking back I can see so many times when my plans didn’t materialize, but something much better did. I can see how God worked through circumstances, people, events, open doors, closed doors, timing, mistakes and even my own stubbornness to accomplish His plans. I can see providence at work.
Providence is such a lovely, old-fashioned, comforting word. Providence means that God, the high and mighty, the powerful and all-knowing, the awesome Creator and Sustainer of all things, intentionally acts in my ordinary and common life. This sovereign God somehow directs, moves and leads me without contradicting or negating my own free will. How humbling and yet reassuring to know that God’s power, wisdom and goodness are actively at work even in my own often seemingly mundane existence!
I love the way Proverbs 3:5-6 reads in The Message:
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.”
More than anything, I want my life to be punctuated by His providence. Though I might reluctantly follow the path laid out before me, or even openly dispute His obvious direction for my future, still, my heart’s desire is to see God at work. Sometimes I don’t recognize it right away. Sometimes hindsight is much clearer. But that’s why I write. By taking the time to reflect on each chapter as it unfolds, each page as it turns, I can find evidences of God’s handiwork penned throughout my days. Then, prayerfully confident in His presence and provision, I can more willingly surrender my need to try and control or manipulate the future. Trusting, I can let God have the last word.