“A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?” – Proverbs 20:24
Over and over again I try to find my way and understand my purpose here on Earth. I do so to the point that I get caught up in the thoughts percolating within my own head. It seems like every time I discover down the road that God was directing my steps anyway, and that there was no way I could have understood what was actually happening at the time.
When I was in eighth grade, my mom decided to move to Texas from Oklahoma in order to be closer to her side of the family. Life as a single mom was tough when your closest family members were a seven hour drive south. I prayed and prayed that God would keep us in Oklahoma. I even threatened my mom that I would move back to Oklahoma with my dad if certain things didn’t change. It was all to no avail. We still moved. Everything about Texas angered me. All that I knew was back home in the Sooner State. It seemed like my desires and plans were being dashed on the rocks.
In high school, every time I would start dating a girl, I would pray that God would keep us together. As a previous post explained, it was normally around the three week mark that said girls would break up with me. On one occasion I went down to the lake, crawled down the concrete stairs to the water’s edge where no one could see me, and bawled my eyes out because my heart was broken and my “true love” had been lost. I just knew that this girl was the one for me, and I had lost my chance. It is pretty sad and ridiculous now looking back.
During my junior year, my step dad hurt his back and was out of work for a while. In order to pick up the financial slack, I went to work full time. For part of the year I was attending private school, and for the rest of the year, I didn’t go to school at all. The result was that I only received an English credit for my junior year, and I had to add on a fifth year to my my high school career. I was pretty upset about needing an additional year to finish. I made sure to let God know that all of my plans to go to college and do something awesome in life were not coming to fruition. There was actually one point where I was cleaning tables at Pizza Hut as all of my friends were dismissed for school. They all drove by the big open restaurant windows headed to play guitar, watch movies, or go swimming. I was stuck cleaning up after people who just ate too much from the buffet, and I started to see my current circumstances as the expected norm for the rest of my life. Then the craziest thing happened.
During my fifth year, I met a pretty blonde-haired girl named Jillian. A few years later we were married and to this day we continue to live happily ever after. If it wasn’t for all of my plans falling apart and all of my prayers going unanswered, I would never have met her. My unwanted move to Texas brought me closer to her. My series of broken hearts actually kept my heart open for her. My embarrassing high school victory lap actually held me back, allowing me to meet my future wife who was a grade behind me.
The trend continued. I earned my college degree from Texas A&M University instead of from the University of Oklahoma where I always wanted to go. Between grants, scholarships, and my Granny’s kindness, I graduated without a dime of debt. God’s plans were better.
My wife and I saved up to travel Australia for a year, and God told us to spend half of that time in Uganda. I did not want to, but it ended up being one of the most rewarding and life changing experiences. God’s plans were better.
Jillian broke her neck after we returned from our trip only to have a complete recovery and $140,000 worth of medical debt miraculously paid. I could not understand why Jillian would break her neck in Texas after traveling the world for a year. It didn’t make any sense. God showed us his ability to heal bodies and restore finances. His plans were better.
Every time I try to understand my own way, I either get overwhelmed, confused, or bogged down. Every time that I trust God and do my best, things seem to work out way better than I ever could have planned. It should be true that the more thought I dedicate to making my own plans and understanding my own way, the better life should be. The problem is that my finite mind is trying to comprehend an infinite truth. God’s plans are better. This what I think Paul meant when he wrote, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.” (1 Corinthians 3:19)
Making plans and attempting to understand our way are perfectly acceptable tasks to pursue, but we need to be open to the idea that when our plans fail, God’s exponentially better plans might be just around the corner.