Author Robert Burns penned the now famous line, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” I can’t tell you how many times in my life the plans I made were detoured. I thought my plan was foolproof, only to find out it wasn’t life proof. Things happen that I don’t foresee and derail my goals and dreams. Often times, in disappointment and frustration, I give up on them and never return to complete them.
Sadly, this is the story for most of us. Life happens and takes away our happily ever after. We either think life has it out for us or God just doesn’t care. The truth is that often we try to build our own plans for our life and never include God’s plan for our life. When all of my plans came crashing down several years ago, I looked at my life and only saw a foundation left. I remember hearing God say, “Now that your plan failed, will you try it my way?”
I agreed that His way was best. I remembered the prophetic words spoken over me shortly after disaster took it all away. God said, “What looks like an ending is only a beginning. Where I am leading you, you will find more joy than you’ve ever known.” As I handed over the reigns of my future to God, I prayed, “God, I trust your future for my life over mine. Do what you want with my life and work out your plan for me.”
God has been faithful to do just that. Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will work out his plans for my life” (NLT). If your plan for your life has failed and you’re at what looks like an ending, I recommend handing over the reigns of your life to God. You can trust your future to Him. He will take what looks like an ending, and turn it into a new beginning. Pray that same prayer I did and watch God work on your behalf.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Have you ever said, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all”? There are times in life when nothing seems to go your way. The odds are stacked against you. Your burdens seem heavier than you can bear. The thought of quitting or giving up can seem like the best option during those times. I understand what it’s like to wonder what did you ever do to make the world be against you. If you’re living in that moment right now, there is hope.
Psalm 145:14 says, “God gives a hand to those who are down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit. (MSG)” Sometimes that fresh start is really what we need. God knows that. But a fresh start usually means an end to the last start. We want the fresh start, but we also don’t like to go through the closing of the previous one. It can often be painful. Walking through those difficult times is what helps create the new beginning though.
I like to tell people that the height of joy I know now is in direct proportion to the depths of sorrow I have faced. I can only experience as much joy that is equal to the suffering I’ve endured. It’s kind of like when jesus asked Peter which person loved Him more. Peter replied, “The one who has been forgiven most.” I believe the one who has experienced the most trouble can experience the greatest freedom. The one who has been forgiven the most is the most free. That person understands more than anyone where they were and what God has set them free of.
When we are under a heavy load or the world seems to be against us, we are in the prime spot to experience a greater depth of God’s grace. He does not want you to stay in the valley. He wants to help you up the mountain, but He understands that the valley is where we learn to appreciate the mountain top experiences. The valley is a dark place that blocks your view of the horizon. Without having been there, you cannot appreciate the light or view from the top of the mountain. There is purpose in the hard times. There are lessons to be learned when we are down on our luck.
God is not content to leave you down on your luck or without hope. His desire is to give you a hand, a nudge or push to get you where He wants you. He needs to close the last chapter before He opens the next. A fresh start is what God offers. Giving us a clean slate from our past is His specialty. He is there for you to help pull you out from under the load that weighs you down so you can experience freedom like never before. He wants you to experience joy like you’ve never known. He wants to take you from the place where you can’t see tomorrow to the mountain top where you have 360 degree views of the horizon. Trust Him to be faithful to His promise in Psalm 145.
Can you believe this year is over? I like to think of each year as a chapter in my life closing. It gives me the opportunity to find closure for the things I want to put in my past and keep there. They’re still a part of my over all story and the development of my character, but I can choose to leave them behind. I remind myself that there’s not a great protagonist without an antagonist, and no one achieves greatness without being marred by failures and disappointments. It’s how we choose to see those things in our life, how we respond to them and whether or not we have the ability to move past them that makes us great.
How do you choose to see the roadblocks that came into your life this year? What are you going to do about the failures and disappointments that happened? How are you responding to life changes that came out of nowhere? Bitter. Angry. Hurt. Faithless. Defeated. Those are words I would have used for the times when I’ve faced years that didn’t go according to my plan. It’s not wrong that you feel those things. They’re normal human emotions that God placed in us. If we hold onto those emotions and allow them to steer our decisions and life, then we get into trouble.
God told us in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and sin not.” He was saying that’s ok to feel these emotions, but don’t let them control you. I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s a choice. One that only you can make. You can choose to leave those feelings behind in this chapter along with the reasons for those feelings. You can choose to pick out the good things in your life and to move forward with them instead. Begin your next chapter on a high note. Begin the next year free from the things that held you down this year.
Next year is full of blank pages waiting to be filled. You have to choose if you want this chapter to be a comedy, tragedy, drama or adventure. Just because this year was full of drama or tragedy it doesn’t mean that next year has to be. I’m reminded of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books I read when I was a child. At the bottom of each page, you had the choice of what the character did next. If you thought they should do this, then you turned to page 38. If you thought they should do that, then you turned to page 64. Life is a lot like that. You choose your next steps.
I choose to let God order my next steps. I still have to take them, but I don’t have to take them alone. Before you do anything or begin to write your chapter for next year, stop and ask God what He wants to fill your pages with. Ask Him to help you close this chapter and to move on from it. Seek His wisdom in where you go from here. Spend time in prayer and planning instead of just letting life take you where it wants. Just like a budget tells your money where to go, a plan tells your life where to go. Get together with God and make a plan for an amazing new year.