Thursday, November 15, 2012

When Things Don't Go Our Way

Yesterday was a school holiday. I took Rachel to a local swimming pool that had a couple water slides to make things fun. Of course, since a swimming pool is much more fun when shared, we invited her best friend Anggi (AHNG-gee) to go along. Rachel had big plans for a couple hours of fun at the pool.

Unfortunately, when we got to the pool, the girls met up with Kredita (kre-DEE-tah) another friend from school. Anggi is a closer friend to Kredita than Rachel is. As Anggi and Kredita also share similar bravery levels when it comes to water slides, the two of them stuck together like glue, and Rachel was left as the odd girl out.

She could have decided to join the other two girls in their play, venturing out once in a while to try one of the bigger slides on her own, and then coming back to join her friends. She eventually did do this, but she spent a great deal of time bemoaning the fact that Anggi wasn’t playing just with her.

That “left-out” feeling is partially due to the reality that at age seven, kids have probably not yet caught on to the fact that you can be friends with more than one person at one time. On the other hand, a comment from Rachel helps me see her situation…and my life…from a different perspective.

Rachel came to me in the pool with her complaint. It went something like this. “I had plans for Anggi and me to play, and now Kredita is here and nothing is working.”

Aren’t we sometimes like that when unexpected things happen in our lives? I know I am. We have our own ideas of how things are going to happen in our lives.
  • Where we will live
  • What kind of a job we will have
  • Who or when we will marry
  • How many children we will have and when
  • How we will have warm relationships with grown children all living nearby
  • What goal or hobby we want to develop
  • Where and in what circumstances we will eventually retire
  • And the list goes on...

Then something happens. God allows something to enter our lives that we never expected. A health crisis. Loss of employment. Difficult relationships. Loss of a loved one. Grown children led to places far away.

In the Bible, many unexpected things happened to Joseph after being sold into slavery by his brothers. Pharaoh’s soldiers chased the newly freed Hebrew slaves to the banks of the Red Sea. Mary was no doubt looking forward to a normal marriage to her fiancĂ©e, Joseph. Mary and Martha experienced the loss of their beloved brother Lazarus. The early church experienced persecution.

Or perhaps God doesn’t allow something to happen that we thought would happen. Our chosen career opportunity does not open up to us. The dreamed-of spouse does not come along. The longed-for child is not yet conceived. Time slips away, and for one reason or another, the hoped-for retirement scenario does not appear to be a possibility.

Abraham and Sarah waited decades for a child. So did Zechariah and Elizabeth. Paul longed for his thorn in the flesh, whatever that was, to be removed.

Each of our experiences are different. When the unexpected happens, or the hoped-for does not materialize, we could spend our time complaining about how our plans are not working. How nothing is going the way we thought it would. We could spend our lives lamenting our losses or grieving for what never happened.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a time for grieving over those lost hopes and dreams. Perhaps we actually need to do that so we can move on. But it is important that we do not live there.

Eventually, we need to let go of the plans that we made for our lives. We can then be free to embrace the new direction that God gives us. This letting go and embracing the new is so important. 

Otherwise, we spend our lives like my Rachel, wandering around the swimming pool alone. We could spend our lives lamenting the fact that our plans are not working.

We can choose a different way. Let’s not miss out on the world of possibilities that could be ours if we only embrace the new and the different that God has for us.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the
 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways

And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

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