I'm thinking about plans.  How I make plans all the time.  Plans to go out with girlfriends.  Plans to take something to the dry cleaners.  Plans to read 33 books in the next four months.  Plans to write a little bit each day.  Plans to take the AIDS Task Force to the next level (whatever the next level is).  Plans, plans, plans. 

"The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."  I'm paraphrasing.  Incorrectly, as I just found out on Google.  Anyway.  Another version might be from James 4:13-14: "Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow."

Granted, it's pretty hard to not plan things.  You can't, for instance, show up at Harvard and attend a class and just say that you don't believe in making plans.  You kind of have to save up and apply…make plans for it.  And I don't think that's what the verse is saying. 

In fact, I had two things this week change.  One super small.  One super huge. 

A few months ago, my kids and I talked about a middle school conference/sleepover that our church was hosting.  We prayed about it and decided as a family to attend.  I made our reservations and put the event on our calendar.  Then we had a death in the family this week that called for us to cancel those prayed-for plans.  Small?  Yes.  But, hmmm…thought we felt a green light on that thing. 

Then several months ago, an opportunity came up for me to present at an AIDS conference for pastors in Haiti.  Not only did I pray about whether I should go, I prayed about whether I should take my son.  After much deliberation and soul- and Jesus-searching, Jack and I decided we should.  (See http://elisabethcorcoran.blogspot.com/2009/11/how-i-made-decision-part-two-drum-roll_19.html.) 

We were excited, we were scared.  We booked our tickets, I started making lists, I wrote my presentation, I bought him books for the plane and power bars for me.  We even just got our shots last week.  That much-wrestled-over decision was bathed in prayer and I felt a smile on my life after we said yes.  Then the earthquake happened this week that called for us to cancel those prayed-for plans.  Huge?  Yes.  But, hmmm…totally thought we felt a green light on that thing.

So what box does this fit into?  Do I doubt my intuition from now on the next time I pray for discernment and feel a nudge to say yes?  Or maybe…maybe it's more about the yes than it is about the thing you're saying yes to.  Maybe God loves to see us open-handed, surrendered, saying whatever You want, Lord.   I have no doubt that Jack and I (and Amy and Bethany, our traveling companions) will experience a blessing from the obedience of saying yes, even if we never get to go.  And I also have no doubt that there were bigger, deeper reasons why our yes did not equate with going.  I just can't see them yet.  And that's okay.

January 20, 2010

(c) Elisabeth K. Corcoran, 2010

Elisabeth lives her with husband and children in Illinois. She is the author of He Is Just That Into You: Stories of a Faithful God who Pursues, Engages, and Has No Fear of Commitment (WinePress), In Search of Calm: Renewal for a Mother's Heart (Xulon), and Calm in My Chaos: Encouragement for a Mom's Weary Soul (Kregel).  All of her books can be purchased on Amazon or through her website at www.elisabethcorcoran.com.

You can follow her on Twitter at ekcorcoran or friend her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/people/Elisabeth-Klein-Corcoran/1301703500.

Watch Elisabeth and her friends spread hope through Africa with Samaritan's Purse at http://www.vimeo.com/7919582.