Change of Plans

We set aside the weekend, giving ourselves time to get a proper amount of sleep, be outside where we find the space to recharge, turn off our email notifications, truly resting. In the throes of both the chaos of our schedules and the grieving of the change to come, the loss of what we thought our lives would look like, our exhaustion had come to battle blows, and as a last ditch effort, we planned a Northern Michigan two night camping excursion to see peak colors and the dunes on the lakeside at the same time to fight back the burnout. So, when Wednesday had hit and the weather was not changing from twenty-seven degrees, raining, and hailing, we took another deep breath and shifted our plans.

Camping turned into glamping, Northern Michigan to Southern, and we were still thrilled to be leaving for just a while to savor and soak in the moments of peace together even if it meant we had to re-orient. We turned on some Lionel Richie, made a quick pit-stop for some snacks, gushing about our time to come when once more, change of plans, we got into a car accident only thirty minutes from where our haven beckoned, to then sit for two hours on the side of the road until we could get all squared away.

I had just been writing up emails the day before to some of the women I serve to let them know of my own change of plans, making sure the wording was just right, leaving only room for more intercession, more hope. There is not much more to say than what has already been said: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick. (Proverbs 13:12)”

I’m not one that I would label as, “change averse,” and yet, my attitude has something to show otherwise. There is certainly space and time necessary for fist shaking, and yet, I can now see how I have played a part in not allowing His peace, His plan to be my guide as I have lingered in my doubts and demands. I have so wanted what I thought was good and right that I had convinced myself that it was God’s will too.

I have been so obsessed with asking God why, begging Him to show me what is next, what He’s doing, hearing messages even said back to me that what comes after this will be so much better; and I am at the very least certain that we are so uncomfortable with the unknown. There is so much to hold on to that is known, but we still lay false sentiments over what we cannot see so that maybe, we can temper that ache in our heart with empty trust.

Sharifa Stevens posted just a few days ago the question, “Do you ever get the sense that people are misidentifying privilege as blessing?”

With conviction, yes, absolutely. I have and do just about every day assume this unconsciously, and I miss the blessing right in front of me when I do. His presence, His own self, is the blessing, but yet, preaching to myself that I have that blessing when I don’t feel it or see it in the way that I want to is where the sandpaper meets my splinter-worthy self. I want His blessing in my way.

Esther has been a giant book of a change of plans, exile itself never being what Israel had expected or hoped, and then Haman feels the need to carry out a devious plan from deep within his Agagite bones to carry out mass genocide of the Jewish peoples. This book also has no mention of God, the author going out of their way to ensure that His name is not mentioned, even when it seems pretty clear that Yahweh is at work and present. As we read the text, we see it so very clearly while the characters seemingly don’t, giving us this double message that hindsight is also 20/20.

Yet, it’s part of the point of the book, the author’s intention that God isn’t mentioned, this message that tells us that despite what we feel or see, God will come through on his promises.

And yet, this, the book of Esther tells us, is how God sometimes shows up. In the silence. In absence. In the darkness of doubt, humiliation, and loss. In the most unlikely ways possible, the miracle of grace manifests. It is precisely in God’s hiddenness that makes this story so hopeful. Whatever dark place you are in today, whether by hapless circumstance or by your own actions, God hasn’t forgotten you. Esther’s story invites us to cling to hope, however small, and to confidence that whatever evil might currently reign, the story of God isn’t finished.
— Mike Cosper, Faith Among the Faithless

I would prefer victory right here, right now, unfortunately if I’m being honest, also cloaked and shrouded by the protection of the American Dream. I don’t want any more of my plans to change, no hiccups, and with that, I hedge myself away from the peace that God’s presence provides in the in-between. He hasn’t promised me my dream job, or a life without car accidents, or a life without change, but He has promised Himself.

I forget that He comes both victorious and bearing visible scars, and as I ask if He cares that I am suffering, I know His gentle, wounded hands are reaching out for mine.

We must remember, the blessing is that He is with us. Thank God for His changing of my many plans.