A Change of Plans

 By Marcy Barthelette

Lord, when you rearrange my life, help me to trust in you.  Dr Kari Vo, Lutheran Hour Ministries

We, humans, do a lot of planning. I am famous for my planning skills….well, I call it skill. Most of my family sees it as worrying. Does it really matter how we describe it? We plan because we are concerned that things won’t turn out the way we want them to unless we make a long to-do list. And if by chance we are known for spontaneity, then often we are considered scatter-brained or frivolous. I think that planners like myself can learn a lot from Joseph, the same Joseph who, just a few short weeks ago, starred in our production of the Nativity.

Joseph had a life plan in place. He was a hard worker from what we know of him. He was an accomplished carpenter and a solid member of an everyday community in his time. He was engaged to marry and start a family of his own. All of these were admirable qualities and made him respected among his peers. And then, in a moment, it all came crashing down with the news that his bride-to-be was pregnant with a child that wasn’t his! How does a man deal with such a trauma?

God placed a lot of trust in Joseph and He gave him plenty of opportunities to walk away from the responsibility that was about to be laid on his shoulders. Joseph wrestled with the notion of taking that option and the laws of the day would have supported that decision. But Joseph took the high road. He took Mary as his wife, honored her commitment to bear the Son of God, and when Caesar Augustus ordered that a census be taken, he packed up his little family to travel the long dusty trail to Bethlehem, even though it was nearly time for the baby to be born.

And after the Holy Birth, Joseph heard of King Herod’s plan to kill all the baby boys of the land and he took Mary and Jesus to another country, where he knew no one and had no work waiting for him. He stayed there many years, protecting his family until he was told that it was safe to go back. He followed every instruction sent to him by God. Joseph was a responsible man and a caring provider. Even though all his carefully made plans had been foiled by the events of history, he never gave up being a Godly man.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23

I would venture to say that Joseph’s ability to “go with the flow” surpassed that of many people, myself included. As I mentioned, I like to plan ahead. Last week, Ken and I had to face some changes in our plans. Late each January, we join a friend of ours in her timeshare cabin at Big Cedar Wilderness Club, a resort situated adjacent to Big Cedar Lodge, and share all amenities. Last year we didn’t get to go because of COVID so this year’s trip meant a lot to us. We’d had no vacation for two years and only a few short camping trips during the pandemic. This venture was a really big deal! We were supposed to have spent 12 days lounging by the fire, pigging out on comfort food, and hiking the surrounding area to burn off all those vacation calories, but old man winter posed a serious threat to our ability to return home on checkout day. So, even though we fought the idea of leaving early, it seemed prudent to do exactly that. We began packing all our belongings on a 66º day in anticipation of ice, sleet, and snow that was forecast to begin in about 36 hours. Only in Missouri! Were we happy with our decision? Absolutely not! But safety took priority and we arrived home with a few hours to pick up essentials for storm prep, unpack and settle in before the winter fun began.

Lord, when I can’t see what you’re doing with my life, help me to trust You to lead me. Amen.

Dr. Kari Vo, Lutheran Hour Ministries

As I wrote, during the storm, we were grateful for a warm, cozy home and plenty to eat. We could enjoy the beauty of the snow from indoors and not fret over experiences missed because our plans were changed. Does this event rival the trials that Joseph faced? Of course not, but it does illustrate how God’s intervention often interrupts our lives. Yes, I’ve experienced the confusion of an unplanned pregnancy and we, as a couple, have known the discouragement of a job loss and the nightmare of relocation thirteen hundred miles away in order to secure a new work opportunity. We’ve also learned to deal with a health diagnosis that left us wondering how we would manage. But all these events were just detours from the laborious plans we had made, detours that God knew about long before they occurred. He was always prepared to lead us through those valleys.

There will be big events in our lives and we can make as many to-do lists as we want, but in the end, God’s will always surpass ours. We would do well to follow Joseph’s example and keep our eye on all the little things that make up this thing we call life. By doing so, God will prepare us for the big events and, while our efforts may seem insignificant at the time when they are woven into the rich tapestry that becomes our earthly legacy, God’s plan becomes clear to us: Regardless of what situations we find ourselves in, He will share them with us, side by side, hand in hand.

So, instead of initiating [your] own plans and asking God to bless them, let God lead your heart. Let Him direct and empower your steps and bless your journey together. That’s His greatest wish: To do life with you.

Bear Grylls, Soul Fuel

One Response to “A Change of Plans”

  1. Rhonda says:

    Great study. Thanks Marcy.

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