“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)
Back in the summer, I shared a story from the pulpit that we were planning a Caribbean cruise with our kids and their families. As the summer progressed, the plans grew more detailed and the preparations, more and more frenetic. Following our annual Labour Day BBQ, the excitement level, even for this experienced world traveller, was palpable. We continued to work out the details of shore excursions, celebratory dinners, on-board activities and also some adult time while the youngsters were asleep. Then two hurricanes hit the Eastern Caribbean with a one-two punch and our cruise itinerary suddenly shifted to the West. All our plans went out the window and had to be rebuilt – but we did it.
Just ten days from our departure date, the phone rang. It was our daughter Heather calling from her home in Sacramento, California. Somehow we knew our carefully re-laid plans were about to change. “Hi,” she said in a nervous tone. Her next words were like an exploding shell – “We can’t go with you on the cruise.” A myriad of thoughts immediately flooded my brain – all of them bad/sad. With great disappointment in my voice, I asked, “Why not?”
“I’m pregnant and the doctor does not want me travelling to places where the Zika virus is common” – which, because of our changed cruise itinerary, included most of the places we would be visiting. I had never before been so full of joy and sadness simultaneously. We couldn't wait to tell everyone; but we were sworn to secrecy as there were still a couple of tests to be completed before Heather wanted the news spread amongst the rest of the family.
"Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." Proverbs 15:30
God's purpose is not always clear; nor is His timing always understandable. We had just been advised that sometime in late April 2018, we could expect to be presented with the gift of new life in the form of or fifth grandchild. What's not to like about that?
When we returned from the cruise, we called Heather for an update and were told that all was good and that we could share the news, but that she wanted to call her grandparents. We chatted for a while longer, then said our farewells and started making “good news” phone calls.
We receive a lot of mail and emails announcing the next best travel opportunity so it was no surprise to find a message from a cruise line on which we had previously sailed. I don' always read these advertisements thoroughly, but this time I scanned the first few lines of their offerings. "...arriving San Francisco on May 5, 2018..."
I stopped scanning and went back a few lines and started reading. There in black and white was an opportunity; an opportunity not only to get out to Sacramento to visit the kids and our newest Grandchild, but to do so in a unique and memorable way. Coincidence? I didn't think so. We booked it.
Speaking of plans, as I write this, I am sitting in a secured room, deep in the bowels of the Court House in Downtown Ottawa. Why? Well a week ago, I was selected to serve on a jury. It's a criminal case, and I now have a major obligation that will be occupying my daytime hours for the next couple of weeks. Until now, I had not really noticed that I had developed a daytime routine that all but precluded being involved in an activity that depended on someone else's schedule. I now have many other obligations that are waiting in line for a spare bit of evening time. Once again, “many are the plans..."
While you cannot see this in the print, it is now two weeks since I penned the previous paragraph. My jury duty ended late last night and I have spent much of today trying to catch up. Blessings on Arlene for holding the presses...
Am I suggesting that God created these circumstances? I cannot say, but it could be that He is using this state of affairs to illustrate a valuable lesson. Perhaps I am a slow learner and I will probably learn this again; when my circumstances change through no fault of my own, I basically have two choices. I can fight it and likely end up totally frustrated, or I can give thanks for what I still have and make the best of it.
Jesus does not desire that we spend our earthly time in frustration and turmoil. In fact it is quite the opposite. On the night before he was arrested, he said to his disciples, "My peace I leave with you; peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14: 27 (NIV)
After our first full day of jury deliberations I sat in my hotel room, pondering the question at hand – “Guilty - Not Guilty?” Who am I to judge? I tried to sleep, but the question would not let me. After some six hours of tossing and turning, at about 5:00 a.m. I remembered something I should have had foremost in my mind at a time like this. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5 (NIV). I did and soon thereafter fell asleep. Two hours later the alarm went off and the day began anew. However I felt refreshed, at peace and I knew my answer to the question. We came to a decision
Despite the many changes in my plans over the past two months, the Lord’s purpose has prevailed and I have had some life-changing and enriching experiences I could never have planned on my own.