When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned
By Jesse Carey
CBN.com Interactive Media Producer
I was recently listening to an episode of the radio documentary series "This American Life" on the topic of stereotypes. One of the interviews was with a young, single, pregnant woman who was researching applicants to become the adoptive parents of her soon-to-be born son. Before coming to conduct the interview, the reporter herself admitted that she had falsely presumed that the subject was a teenager. But, after meeting the woman, she was surpirsed to find out that she was in fact an independent 27-year-old with a good job and her own apartment. The woman told the reporter that her co-workers and people she meets are often surprised to find out that she’s not married, and are quick to make assumptions about her lifestyle and decision.
Then, toward the end of the interview, the woman says that the baby is a result of “unusual circumstances.” In an emotional confession, she tells the interviewer that she was engaged, and her fiancé died unexpectedly. During a time of emotional vulnerability, she became pregnant by another man, stilling grieving the loss of her fiancé. “I made a mistake,” she said.
Though she said she was capable of raising the child, she felt it would be better to have another couple adopt him. She tells the interviewer, “Things aren’t going the way that, you know, they were supposed to … or as planned.” She described how her and her fiancé planned on starting a family and a life together. Now he was gone, and she was having someone else’s baby, alone.
Plans are funny things. Most of the time, when we make them, we aren’t really the ones who control their outcomes. Sure, we can do our best to try and make them happen, but so much of our world—and our lives—are dictated by things outside of our control. Like the girl in the story, we all encounter things in life (to some degree) that aren’t “supposed” to happen. Whether it’s a consequence of something we’ve done or simply circumstances that are out of our control. Suddenly, plans change—and sometimes, they totally disappear.
The Bible is full of stories of people who encountered changes of plans. After the glorious exodus from Egypt, the Israelites were “supposed” to walk into the Promise Land—the home long-hoped for. After 39 years of wandering in the wilderness, it was clear, things were not going as they had planned. Mary and Joseph were “supposed” to get married and start a family and lead normal lives—but after an angel showed up with a mission from above, plans changed. Lazarus was “supposed” to be healed; after all, he was a close personal friend with Jesus himself. But after his sickness took a turn for the worse, suddenly his family realized, plans had changed.
The woman in the interview was faced with a heartbreaking situation, but even out of such a difficult circumstance, a change in plans still was used for good. She made an amazingly admirable decision, and offered to give her child up for adoption to a family wanting a baby.
Many of the characters in the Bible didn’t understand why God had so drastically changed their plans, but God is more concerned with the outcome, than the scenario. After all, the scenario is only temporary; outcomes are eternal. Israel did find the Promise Land after 40 years. Mary and Joseph raised Jesus Christ himself. Lazarus was brought back from the dead after the illness took his life. Plans changed.
Many people have to deal with impossibly difficult situations that aren’t part of their plan. Though some of us are never faced with such dramatic decisions, we all have things that didn’t work out the way they were “supposed” to.
I was supposed to be married by now. I was supposed to be promoted by now. I was supposed to have achieved (fill in the blank) by now.
Life happens. Plans change.
But God is still there.
Plans can be good, but when our focus is so intent on making them happen, it can be crushing when things just don’t work out like we wanted them to. When our whole life is shaped around our plans, suddenly we can become so concentrated on accomplishing them that we lose sight of God. Too often, our lives are dedicated to serving our own plans. But as Christians, we are called to serve only one. Our plans can become idols. When we live our lives trying to achieve expectations that we determined, we put our plans over God’s. And, the thing about our plans is, they can always change. But God never does.
Many times, plans turn out to be like the house built on sand Jesus described in Matthew 7:24. When the winds and waves of change come, the house crumbles into the sea. But faith in God’s eternal purpose is the house built on the rock: “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Matthew 7:25, NIV).
Tragedy happens. Winds and waves are all around us. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. We all do things we regret and are faced with consequences. But when we rely on God—not our own ability to make our plans become realities—things that weren’t supposed to happen, actually turn out all right.
Most plans don’t allow for second chances. But God does.
Plans are funny things. Sometimes, it’s not until after you decide to abandon them that you realize that maybe there still is bigger plan after all.
More from Spiritual Life
Check out Jesse's Blog, The Morning Five
Jesse Carey is the Interactive Media Producer for CBN.com. With a background in entertainment and pop-culture writing, he offers his insight on music, movies, TV, trends and current events from a unique perspective that examines what implications the latest news has on Christians.
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.