Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Best Laid Plans

Last Fall, we inherited a freezer from Charlie's grandma. It was an answer to prayer as our old (I mean REALLY old!) freezer had died and was too small anyway. I love our "new" one as it is an upright freezer and so darn easy to organize. We put it out in our small garage temporarily until we could spend some time (and money) fixing up our mud room to accommodate our newest appliance.
A week ago, we returned home from my grandma's funeral to discover that our sweet little Penny didn't take too kindly to being left alone and had dug a nice, not-so-neat hole in one of our flower beds. It wouldn't have been more than a simple inconvenience had she not found the very spot where an electrical line is buried! The line is older and not covered by PVC or conduit of any kind. The Lord must want our cutie dog to live a bit longer because she managed to chew on the line and short it out without electrocuting herself! Charlie spent a couple of hours giving the line a temporary fix and covering the area with paving stones until we could decide how best to make a more permanent repair. Later that night, we realized that when the line shorted out, the electricity to the small garage was turned off and our freezer had been off for several hours. Fortunately, everything but the ice cream (Good-bye Ben. Good-bye Jerry.) was still frozen so we thanked God for alerting us so quickly.
Yesterday, I planned out our meals for the week and prepared our grocery list so Charlie and the girls could make a run to the store. I asked him to go out to the big freezer to retrieve some pork chops and ground beef so we could put them in the kitchen freezer. It was taking him awhile so I looked out the side door to see what was going on and found him staring into the freezer shaking his head. The electricity had shorted out again, but this time everything had defrosted. We were too late to salvage much of anything.
As we carted what we could save (some bags of frozen veggies and fruits) to the kitchen freezer, I thought about all the great deals we had made over the summer and how we had carefully stocked the freezer for the Fall and Winter months. Normally, I would wait a bit longer to stock up, but with a newborn on the horizon, I wanted to get a head start. I thought about how much hard earned money had been wasted and how long it would take to replace what was lost. I started to feel angry... especially when I spied "sweet" Penny happily munching on a bone!
It isn't as if we are going to go hungry. We will have plenty to eat, and I dare say, we'll even be able to re-stock the freezer over the course of time. The issue for me was that I had planned and carefully budgeted and calculated. That freezer full of food was a little insurance against rising food prices and the unpredictable financial future we're all facing right now. I felt cheated and defeated. Deep inside me, something started to stir and as I turned to talk to the Lord about it, my end of the conversation went something like this:
Lord, I don't know how to thank You in this situation. There isn't anything about this that I like. I know it's just food, but it isn't just food. There are a lot of things that aren't going according to plan right now. We just watched a good chunk of our grocery bill go down the tubes. It feels wasteful. I don't like being on bed rest. I have all these children to manage and it doesn't seem fair that we are all cooped up because of me. The house seems to be falling apart and I'm going stir crazy stuck inside all day! The medicine I'm on turns me into someone I don't like very well, and I am not enjoying the side effects at all. I don't mean to question Your authority, but I'm having a hard time seeing the blessing in all of this. I guess what I'm asking is where is Your plan to prosper us? How does all of this fit into Your best for us? This doesn't feel like Your best...
And, I felt the same way I do every time I have a venting prayer...small, whiny, selfish...your basic two year old on a tantrum. I apologized for my poor attitude and asked the Lord to just be with me in all that was going on and to make me willing to accomplish His will for me. That felt better and I was able to move forward with the day.
This morning, while Charlie and the girls were at church, I was still thinking over all that has been happening in our family the last two weeks when I found this:
The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Psalm 33:10-11
It isn't that I think God didn't want us to fill our freezer with food for our family or make plans to enjoy our summer before our son in born, but He does want us to allow the plans of His heart to be the plans of ours. I don't know that we have stepped outside of His plans for us, but I do know that He is using this time of uncertainty to remind us to look to Him in all things. I am a planner by nature--by God's design--and that is a gift that I have often allowed God to use for His glory. On the other hand, there have been many times when I have abused that gift and used it for my own selfish purposes. I have to admit, that full freezer felt pretty secure. Would I have spent as much time praying over my coupons and grocery ads and grocery budget with the security of that full freezer? Would I have thanked God for His provision every time I opened that door to pull something out to eat? Would I have spent as much time praying for this baby if I had been allowed to spend the remainder of my pregnancy doing whatever I wanted? Would I have appreciated simple things like being able to pick up my children or tuck them in bed or prepare a meal for my family? I'd like to think that the answer to these questions would be "yes," but I hesitate because I know my own selfish, sinful nature.
So, in all of this, the best laid plans amount to nothing if they aren't the plans of the Lord. We must be willing to be flexible and willing to change our course when the Lord requires it of us. He is sovereign and in control and nothing happens that He doesn't know about or know how to handle. His counsel, His will, His plans...they do stand forever.

Lord, Thank You that by Your nature You are so patient and kind and forgiving. Thank You that You endure my ranting and venting. Forgive my stumbling and bumbling. Make me willing. Make me flexible. And in all things, remind me to give thanks. Thanks for all things. In Jesus' name. Amen.