― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
I was having a conversation with a friend about the way things were "supposed to be" and now they aren't going to be that way at all. I was wallowing in the enormity of it, gearing up for another Eliza Doolittle bawling session, "What's to become of me? What's to become of me?" He reminded me to take one day at a time, that there were many things to see, many things to do, and that things will turn out alright. While it is hard to let go, I'm beginning to accept the concept that just because it isn't the future I planned, it doesn't mean there won't be good.
Proverbs 16:9 NLT says, "We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps."
Proverbs 19:22 says, "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails."
These make it pretty clear - we can plan all we want, but God is going to determine the steps. His Word tells us that He plans good for us, but as Lewis said elsewhere, we don't doubt that but we do worry how painful that good will be. That is where I am - in the thick of the pain, reeling from how painful it has been and wondering how painful it is yet to be. Of course, I don't like pain. I had a pretty comfortable path planned out and suddenly I'm facing the Unknown. For someone like me who likes the "i's" dotted and the "t's" crossed, I'm faced with an unfinished cursive sentence and since the pen is still traveling the i's and t's remain incomplete.
Scottish Poet Robert Burns was plowing up his field in the fall and plowed right through a nest that a poor mouse had made for the coming months of chill and lack. In one unexpected moment, man inadvertently had laid waste to the mouse's hope and security for winter. You will recognize a famous line in this poem used to title a very popular novel:
Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell-
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.
That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men
Gang aft agley,
An'lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e'e.
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!
I can choose to look at the future differently than I am right now. Fear does not have to be my adjective of choice. I must discard that if I truly believe God's promises. In Psalm 37 a portion has been turned into a song that I always sing, "Rejoice for the steps/of a righteous man/they are ordered of God, they are ordered of God/And in the time of trouble/He will sustain you/He will uphold you/He will lift you up/And in the time of trouble/God will carry you/So rejoice your steps are ordered of God." In Jeremiah 29:11, He tells us, "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."
Hope. Future. Both of these words are progressive, they are not words of stagnation. They are not words of wallowing. Like my friend said when we spoke, there might be time left for adventure, for doing interesting things, thinking about those is not a bad thing.
Am I sad? Heck, yes. Grief has physical effects that have hit me a hitherto unknown levels. Am I shaken? To the very core. I'm still in the midst of a raging storm BUT I do know the Guy with the power of that storm. My friend reminded me of Someone who suffered greater pain for my sake and how much more important than the material world that sacrifice is. The Author and Finisher of my faith has unwritten pages, the storyline wasn't mine to write and now it's perhaps a bit more of a cliffhanger than I imagined but...the pen is still writing, the page will turn...