List – a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something
I am the first to admit that I felt that life was supposed to be a specific way. When I was a child I paid attention to everything. Through my observations of the adults in my life, I began to compile a plan of how my life was supposed to play out.
- Graduate at 21
- Get married at 21 (I guess 21 was a big deal to me haha)
- Move to London
- Have kids
When I was a child, this was all I thought I needed to have a successful life. I grew up in church but I don’t remember ever making sure that God was somewhere on my plan. As I got older and I began to gain a grip on reality, my list began to change. By the time I entered high school, my plan looked a lot like this:
- Graduate College at 21
- Get married by 22
- My husband would be a Christian, black man, compassionate, at least 5 inches taller than me, college-educated, a good cook, a man who wanted kids, a man who loved to travel, a man who dressed nicely, a man who was secure in his masculinity, a man who … get the point?
- Buy a house by 30
I felt that I put together a fantastic plan but the closer I got to the deadlines I set for myself, I began to grow frustrated with God. I had this amazing plan that I ran by Him and felt like it was perfect.
I want y’all to read that sentence again.
‘I had this amazing plan that I ran by Him and felt like it was perfect.’ That was my problem. I planned out my life and told God where He would fit in that plan. Now, I don’t know if anyone has ever told God what to do and it worked but I thought I was something special. God made it clear to me that I am not at all qualified to make the decisions for my life. I was insulted at the idea that I wasn’t qualified to move my life forward according to my terms.
After my redication back in January, God revealed me that this wasn’t an insult at all! God showed me that He would take the stress of planning my life off my shoulders when I made it clear that I was giving everything to Him.
I have found that there is a deep-rooted contentment in giving into His plan and forgetting about my own. God’s plan doesn’t always match the path I have for my life and while that can be a total surprise, this is okay!
Philippians shows me that being joyful in God’s surprises is how I can demonstrate my absolute trust in Him. Paul didn’t originally plan to go to Philippi but he obeyed God … and ended up in jail. Now I don’t anticipate that God’s plan will land me in the slammer, but what stood out to me about Paul’s experience is that he was genuinely joyful despite his circumstances. In this letter, Paul expresses that he prays with joy (v 3) when he prays for the Philippian people. He expresses in v 18 that he will continue to rejoice regardless of his circumstances!
I know this book of the Bible was originally a letter meant to inspire new believers, but how wonderful is it that we can refer to it in this day and age for a first-hand account of how to remain joyful at all times.
Since learning this, my attitude has adjusted. When things are thrown off course, I just assume that God is closing a door and preparing me for the next open one. My plan (and my list) have also adjusted. It looks a lot like this now.
- Joyfully and willfully, do as the Lord instructs me.
Short, sweet and drives the point home.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.