• Debbie Salter Goodwin

The Unplanned Plan


How many times have I tried to make my plans only to have them explode before my eyes. Nobody was caught in the shrapnel but me. I bear wounds from many explosions.

You see, I’m a planner. I plan my day. I plan my grocery shopping. I plan meals for the week.


I remember a conversation with our daughter, Lisa, when she was six. It was Saturday. I was about to cue Lisa for the plans for the day. She pre-empted me by saying, “Mom, I’ve already planned my day. Now don’t you go un-plan it.”


I kept my mouth shut and smiled at Lisa. Unfortunately, that’s not what I do with God. I respond more like Lisa did.

Why do we believe that we can plot and goal-set in a way to edit out the inconveniences and challenges that get in our way? Life happens and not always the way we want.


Here we are again as we try to re-enter our world of work, school, travel, shopping and worship. What we want is to go back to the way things were, only more rested, more family-involved, more ready for normal. But what we’re going to get, at least for more months than we wanted, is revisions, restrictions, and less normal.


How do we meet it head on? Maybe we need to remember what what Oswald Chambers calls “redemption reality.” We made an exchange at the time of our conversion. Along with forgiveness and membership in the family of God, we exchanged our short-sighted, self-focused ways for the All-Knowledge of God’s ways and direction. It’s not that we can’t dream our dreams and plan our plans, but we must do it differently because “we are not our own, we have been bought with a price.”


We are not our own, but we keep acting like it. And when we do, we whine more than shine.


Our culture has conditioned us to expect certain lifestyles. Food on grocery shelves. Reliable travel. Delivery expedited. Enough gas. Autonomy in our daily routines. Freedom to pursue happiness by our definitions.


But Jesus prepared us for another life. He prepared us to expect shortages, trouble, wars, reversals, poverty, betrayals and isolation. e aHlso lifted us to a higher standard as we live through it. He prepared us to be light when other people see darkness. He tells us we can be salt at a time when nothing tastes normal.


Now, more than ever, is our time to live life as Christ defines it. We need to liive redemption reality with peace and gusto. We need to live as reflected Light. We need to live to help and serve in new normal times. We need to be ready to give an answer for the hope we have that no pandemic, disease, or crisis can take away. We need to live without complaining about what we don’t have and enjoy what we do have. Have you forgotten that list? We have unlimited access to God’s presence, His peace, the security that He is working behind the scenes on a plan to share His unfailing love with the whole world. We live as the 99 sheep that are kept by the Shepherd. But we live in that fold with a passion to find the missing one.

When I examine my angst in times of change, I need to remember whose plan isn’t working and Whose plan is. I’m going with God’s plan even when it means the undoing of mine. I think we call that surrender, and it’s the only way to live in uncertain times with a plan that nobody can un-plan.


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