I guess at one point or another in your life, things did not go as you had planned, dreamed or hoped for. I've certainly experienced that and it took a long time for me to come to terms with this.
I grew up in a Christian home where I was taught how to have a personal relationship with God and how to seek his will and direction in all I did. Believing that God wanted me to be a Primary School Teacher I applied to University and with God's guidance I chose the one that was right for me. Those four years at university were tough and more than once I wanted to give up and go home. But believing I was where God wanted me to be, gave me the endurance I needed to keep going. At the time my plan for my life was to become a teacher and I firmly believed that was God's plan for me too.
In my prayers I asked God to direct me to the teaching post he had for me. I never doubted that I wouldn't get a job as a teacher. When no job was offered despite numerous application forms and interviews, I worked in a voluntary capacity in a local school and also worked as a Supply Teacher.
I found it hard to understand - what were the four years of training for if there wasn't a job at the end of it? I had sincerely, and to the best of my ability, followed what I believed was God's will for me. Yet my life was not going according to plan.
Then I became ill with M.E. and was not physically able to work. Again, what was this about? It made no sense to me as a young twenty-something.
As you will know, it's hard when life doesn't go according to plan. We can feel frustrated, let down by God. We can become bitter. We can feel confused. We can feel that life no longer makes any sense to us.
It took time for me to understand that even though it hadn't looked like it, I was in line with God's will for my life. God was working my life out according to his plan. As I submitted to him and continued seeking his will, he made himself and his plan clear to me. God is sovereign and he has a way of getting us to where he wants us to be.
I had been following his direction, but what he wanted for me was different to what I thought he'd wanted for me. He revealed it bit by bit as I was able to understand it. Had he revealed his plan in it's entirety in the beginning I know it would have been too much for me to cope with, and so he graciously revealed it to me in steps. Jesus said as much in his conversation with his disciples in John 16:12.
My training and time away at university had developed me as a person and I grew stronger in my own faith. I learnt and honed skills which God knew I would one day need. What I needed to do was follow him step by step and put my confidence and trust in him.
You and I can trust in his promises.
God used my experiences and developed spiritual gifts in me so that I am now able to teach groups of women about the bible and encourage them in their own spiritual walk. He has also enabled me to preach in my home church and in others. He has blessed me with a love of his word, of studying his word and of sharing his word with others. This is what he had planned all along, I just didn't know it at the time.
I'm encouraged by the verse: "You can make many , but the ’s purpose will prevail." Proverbs 19:21 (NLT)
Even when sometimes our own plans have been nothing like God's plans for us, when we submit to God and surrender to his will for us, he will get us back on track. And nothing that we experience through our life is ever wasted. God can use it all.
God has even used my illness for good. He has used it to make me the woman I am today. And he uses it to encourage others.
"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8:28 (NLT)
When life doesn't go according to plan I believe it's because God has a better plan for our life. If you're struggling right now with something in your life that has not gone according to plan be encouraged that God has something better in mind for you. Even though you can't see it right now, even though God may not reveal it for some time to come, will you choose to lean on him and trust him?
To Think About:
Has there been a time in your life when things did not go according to plan? How did you respond to this?
Have you experienced God's better plan for you?
What did God teach you during and after this process?
Are you willing to surrender to God's plan for your life?