As a moderate control freak, I’m learning to trust God in the midst of change. The transformation began when two leg injuries within 10 days landed me in a wheelchair, unable to walk or drive.
Prior to the injuries, my entire year’s calendar had been jam-packed. I faced three book deadlines with my publisher and a significant assignment with another — all due on the same day. I’d planned to host a weekend retreat for local businesswomen. I’d already booked the venue and workshop leaders, printed posters and brochures, and advertised at networking luncheons. Immediately following that scheduled event, my husband and I were to fly to Moscow for ministry purposes and then to Romania for our annual missionary staff conference.
Trusting Him to work on your behalf
My injuries changed everything. Powerless, I watched my plans crumble and fall aside miles — nay, a universe — beyond my control. I was faced with a choice: stress over the unexpected or let them go and give God free reign to work out His purposes. I chose the latter. Doing so drew me into a place of sweet rest as I learned to nestle in God’s sovereignty. It also left me in awe as I recognized the wisdom of His ways at work on my behalf.
For instance, being housebound left me unable to adequately promote the businesswomen’s retreat. The downside? Low registrations and, ultimately, postponing the event. The upside? More focused writing time.
Traveling to Russia and Romania were out of the question for me. The downside? Not being able to minister in those places as anticipated. The upside? More writing time.
The more I wrote, the more I realized how difficult it would have been to meet my deadlines, host the retreat, and prepare for our overseas ministry while maintaining health and overall well-being, and the more grateful I became for God’s sovereignty. This may sound ludicrous, but in retrospect I believe my injuries protected me from a schedule that could have proven harmful. True to Proverbs 16:9, I’d made my plans but He determined my steps.
Perhaps you’ve experienced a change of plans, too. Maybe you were engaged to marry a certain someone, but the relationship fell apart. Perhaps you tried to start a family, but your efforts failed. Maybe you set your heart on pursuing your passion, but the timing hasn’t worked out. Yet.
Having faith in His eternal perspective
Hang in there, sister! We see life now through a limited lens, unlike God who sees from an eternal perspective. Our role is to trust Him. Easier said than done sometimes. I understand that. But I also know it’s possible to rest when life takes a detour.
The following insights, learned through experience, have helped me survive (and thrive) in the midst of change. Perhaps you’ll find them helpful, too.
- Commit each day to the Lord. I now begin each morning with a prayer like this: “Lord, You know what’s on my to-do list, but I invite You to change it to accomplish Your purposes.” This helps alleviate stress when unexpected phone calls or visits hinder me from doing what I think needs to be done. Life’s about His purposes, not mine.
- View changes as positive. Our tendency might be to consider changes in our plans as irritants, interruptions, or obstacles. Instead, let’s consider them in a positive light — as opportunities to partner with God. What might He want to accomplish in and through us that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise?
- Trust the Lord’s sovereignty. He knows His plans and purposes for our lives, and He’s in the business of orchestrating them. Even if the unexpected seems hurtful, we can trust Him to use it for our good if we love Him (Romans 8:28).
- Maintain a teachable heart. What lessons does God want us to learn through the change? I learned to more fully appreciate God’s involvement in my life. He didn’t deny me ministry opportunities; He protected me from my own “do-er” personality and the resulting stress of over-commitment. The opportunities that fell by the wayside will return if He truly wants me involved in those things.
- Give thanks — even when changes don’t make sense. Sometimes we don’t feel like giving thanks because disappointment or pain nearly overwhelms us. That’s when we need to overrule our emotions and do what we know is right. Giving thanks even when it hurts conveys a willingness to trust God no matter what, and this honors Him.
Ultimately, keeping our plans in an open hand and allowing God to direct our steps results in peace. He’s in control, and we can trust Him to carry us through when change comes.
* * *
Read more by Grace: