A few short months ago, I felt good. I was ahead of the game. Christmas was approaching. I had published my Advent posts. My Christmas blog post was drafted and pretty much ready to go. I had my New Year’s blog post sort of worked out in my mind.
One of the reasons I was getting prepared was because I was taking the first week of January off. I was excited. It’s a long time since I took a week off, and I’ve never done it at New Year. We made last minute plans to spend Christmas with my daughter in Bristol, and then to spend that precious first week of January in York. It had been a very busy few weeks. I was mentally clinging on for the break, and it was good to have my blog planned and mostly sorted.
Then, stuff happened. Family stuff. Most of it was small stuff, but some of it was massive. Someone really important to me was taken ill, and then sadly died. You get the picture. Christmas was not what I planned, and the New Year was a very muted affair. Some of the family live around 350 miles away. In the average year, I drive around 6,000 miles. By the 18th January this year I had already driven 2000 miles. My wife and I are physically and emotionally exhausted.
So much for my plans.
Of course, the Bible says that my plans are not actually what matters. It says that God has a plan for my life.
Jeremiah 29:6 I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you..
He has a plan. It’s a good plan. It’s a plan which will do me good, not harm me. So why, when for the first time in ages I had planned some proper sabbath style downtime, does a good and gracious God throw in a bunch of unexpected and very heavily weighted curved balls and leave me floundering at the start of this new year in an exhausted muddle.
The point is that it often seems that my plan, your plan, our plan, doesn’t always tie in with His. That can be disappointing. That can be frustrating. That can make us angry. But it shouldn’t. It really, really shouldn’t. That’s exactly how He said it would be.
In fact, it just emphasizes the risk of taking one verse out of context and imagining that it’s the whole story. Of course, the verse is true. If you are in Christ, God’s plan for you is perfect. And it is good. It’s very good. But it has more to do with your whole life than with the things you were planning to do next week. God looks at our lives from a very different perspective. He sees whole life differently. His plan for you is eternal. And it is awesome. God gives us the freedom to make our own plans – we’re designed to be able to use our own initiative – but you see nowhere in the Bible does He give me the right to make my own plans and expect them to always work out. That’s not how it works.
I can plan as much as I like, but He will always have the masterplan.
Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
So, right now I’m exhausted. I’m a bit low. I’m mourning, and I’m hurting for some of my relatives who are really in pain and experiencing loss right now.
But I’m trusting the Christ who said he would always be with me. I’m trusting a God who will not let me down.
Psalm 138:8: The Lord will fulfil his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
So, you might ask. If I had been so far ahead, where is my well carefully crafted Christmas message? What are my sparkling philosophical reflections for the New Year?
As I said, they’re drafted and ready to go. I’ll publish them next Christmas. I really am ahead of the game!