When Plans Don't Go As Planned
- Cliff Young Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2009 11 Jun
My days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart (Job 17:11).
Even though Job shared these discouraging words to us in the midst of his heartbreak over 3,000 years ago, I don’t believe they were limited to his time. I would guess similar thoughts are reflected upon every day in the hearts and minds of people all around us, notably singles.
It is sort of an Eeyore (the loveable donkey known for his gloomy and depressive nature in Winnie the Pooh stories) type of mentality—you have great friends, freedom to roam, exciting adventures, yet have bouts of despondency and an outlook that plans will fail.
At times, when I have these thoughts, I sometimes wonder if my plans and desires were not of God, if he has a different direction for my life, if I messed up somewhere along the way and if there is a chance things will ever get better.
Feelings like these expressed by Job and experienced by some of us, are rooted from being dissatisfied. Dissatisfied with ourselves, dissatisfied with others, dissatisfied with our relational status or relationships, dissatisfied with our situation or career, dissatisfied with what we have or don’t have, or dissatisfied with our inability to control any of this.
Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man (Proverbs 27:20).
The source of this dissatisfaction can be traced back to the beginning of man, and the author of deception.
‘Really?’ he (the serpent) asked the woman. ‘Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?’ ‘Of course we may eat it,’ the woman told him. ‘It’s only the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God says we must not eat it or even touch it, or we will die.’ ‘You won’t die!’ the serpent hissed’ (Genesis 3:1-4).
The enemy operates with a salesman-style personality—trying to convince us we are discontent with all of the things we are blessed with and to focus on the things we don’t have.
His desire is to keep us wanting more, and that “more” is of the world, not of God. If Satan can discourage us to be dissatisfied with ourselves, our situation or anything in this world, he accomplishes his task.
My days have [not] passed
How I wish that I might have what I ask for and that God would give me what I hope for (Job 6:8).
We live in a world prescribed by arbitrary milestones and measurements.
- Marry your soul mate out of college.
- Own a home.
- Have children in your twenties and thirties.
- Work in a profession that is monetarily rewarding.
- Retire wealthy and enjoy your grandchildren in your fifties.
- Live happily ever after well into your seventies.
Success and (supposed) happiness in the world’s eyes are roughly based upon reaching these aspirations.
Therefore, if we assess our life according to these guidelines, our days have passed. If we believe that being “normal” is lining up with the world’s view of where we “should” be, we will never be content. If we determine our happiness is based upon receiving what we ask for on our timeline, we will never experience true happiness.
Furthermore, if we strive to live by and desire what the world dictates, we will probably miss out on the amazing, unfathomable and (humanly) unpredictable things of God.
Don’t live your life in what “could have been,” feeling as if your days have passed, live expecting the unforeseen by a God who knows you, loves you and created you. Allow Him to handle the logistics of time and place in your life.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days (Psalms 90:14).
My plans are [not] shattered
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21).
This frequently quoted passage attests to the Lord’s omnipotence, although it is perhaps cited more often as consolation after one's hopes and plans go astray.
My tendency to have many plans not only disappoints from having them unrealized, but also a risk of focusing on my desires and my timetable rather than seeking the Lord’s.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3).
To commit means to put in charge or entrust. I find it easy to include the Lord in my everyday life, but more difficult to completely hand it over to him and not worry. Unless your plans are committed to and aligned with the Lord, they will not succeed to the extent they could with the Lord’s blessing.
Have you committed whatever you do to the Lord? Have you sought after the Lord’s direction and purpose for your life? Have you heard his voice and accepted His ways?
The frequent attacks by the world telling us we need to take control of our lives and live by the world’s agenda are only the plans of the enemy to make us feel dissatisfied. Commit whatever and everything you do to the Lord and he will satisfy your needs.
Sometimes we forget the Lord’s purpose will always prevail despite our best plans and ourselves.
You can have the desires of your heart
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4).
Nothing seems further from where America’s values are headed than what this verse instructs us to do. We are encouraged to delight ourselves in ourselves by obtaining what we want even if we can’t afford it, to do what we want if it feels right, and to change foundational truths if it confirms the way we want to live.
Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes that living this way (apart from God) is “all meaningless.”
Although Gideon found his desires to be in line with those of the Lord, he was shown the Lord accomplishes His desires in unique ways, by fighting tens of thousands of men with 300.
If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength (Judges 7:2).
Oftentimes, God works in unusual ways from what we expect, plan or desire for this very reason—that we will not be able to boast we did it by our own strength and ability. If we are successful in accomplishing our desires in the way we planned, our mortal tendency would be to believe it was because of ourselves, not of God.
In order to truly worship and serve God in the way he created us to, our focus won’t be on our own wishes and our own ways, but rather on his. In addition, our dissatisfaction won’t come from not getting what we want, but rather from not fully living out our lives for the Lord.
If we spend each day with a heart of gratefulness, acknowledging the little, often unnoticed, blessings in our life, we will start to appreciate the goodness of the Lord and begin focusing on what we have rather than what we don’t.
God promises he will give us the desires of our hearts; however He asks us to delight ourselves in him. It is through consistent gratefulness for all things that we will grow to see how God is working.
The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:17).
Whether you are a man who has lost everything, a single adult feeling as if you are missing out on something, someone who has just lost their enthusiasm for life, or a sawdust-filled animated donkey, there is hope. Our days are not gone, our plans are not shattered, and we can have the desires of our heart.
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed (Psalms 20:4).
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to [email protected].
**This article first published on June 11, 2009.