My husband and I had everything all planned out before our big move. We knew exactly what our next steps would be, where we were headed and what was supposed to happen. We did that thing where we prayed for God to bless our plans, as opposed to bringing Him into the planning process.
We packed up all the stuff from our first apartment together, mapped out a road trip from Oklahoma to California, and moved.
It was a snowy, majestic road trip, full of beautiful detours and memories made. One of the detours happened to be the Grand Canyon. We went in early February and it was empty and vast. At many of the lookout points, we were the only two there. It was surreal.
I remember contemplating it all afterward. How I had imagined it would be and how it was far better than I could have ever imagined.
Isn’t that how life works?
Then I received a message from an old friend of mine, who reminded me that once, years earlier, I told her I wanted my first visit to the Grand Canyon to be with my future husband.
It came back to me. I remembered saying that; I even remembered praying it. The realization set in that God answered a prayer I forgot ever praying, and done it even better than I had imagined.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11
Nearing the end of the trek, I said a prayer as we crossed the state-line into California, “God, go ahead and surprise us. Do it better than we can imagine. Put our plans to shame.”
And He sure did answer that prayer.
Where we imagined we would be in the future: surprise—we’re somewhere else entirely (we are in California, though!).
Things we were sure would happen, didn’t always happen. Things that felt impossible, somehow became possible.
Some changes were hard to adjust to or were great big disappointments.
Other times? There have been shifts and surprises that were better than we had expected, and fell into place better than we could’ve hoped.
Some things felt final, but were only temporary. Some things felt bitter, but then we wound up thanking God for how sweet it turned out to be.
Isn’t that how life works?
God answered prayers – from the ones we repeated endlessly to ones we forgot we ever voiced, and even prayers we hadn’t realized we needed to pray until He was already answering them (such a good Father).
As Psalm 145:18 states, “The Lord is near to all who call on Him.” Through every step of our journey, God was close to us.
I prayed years ago, while sitting at another job before our big move, for God to someday, somehow, give me a job where I could help people but also use my love of communicating. During this prayer I felt compelled to write a “hope list” (that I assumed would never happen) of little things I’d love in a job (i.e, that I would have a boss that led us in prayer, that it left me room in my day to work on my personal projects, etc.).
And…years later, in California, in the town we didn’t expect to end up in, I got a job that fulfilled all that. God ticked off that wish list in ways I didn’t expect.
I remember driving home after my first day of work, thinking how I had given up on that wish list. But God was just waiting for the right time.
My life, our lives, are full of majestic moments, beautiful views, scary twists and turns, just like the drive around the snowy Grand Canyon. We can try and imagine what’s coming, we can plan and schedule our every step and every stop (and we should be proactive-dreamers and work toward goals!) but our lives are un-imaginable, un-predictable and a story all our own, written by the author and finisher of our faith.
Let’s keep the faith as our story is written. Always remembering our God is a great author of storylines: one plot point we find surprising and bitter might be there to make something in the future that much sweeter, or maybe it doesn’t go as expected but it is just so much better than we could’ve planned ourselves.
“In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6). Life happens and God twirls His pen.
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