The End of a Chapter – when our plans are not God’s plans

These last few weeks and months have been a challenge. You know those days when it seems like everything goes wrong, nothing is going the way it’s supposed to? You make plans, and it seems like you just can’t make those plans work. Here’s just one example of this “law of Murphy” stuff happening. I took my pc in the other day to get cleaned up, take off viruses, make it run better etc, and they discovered that my Hard drive is dying. After trying to find a hard drive that could replace this one, we find out that the hard drive on this computer is really rare and specific and it’s really hard and expensive to get ahold of. Not worth it. So, I’m here typing on the computer, hoping it lasts me a few more months before I have to go and buy a new one. (Hence, the reason these last two weeks I haven’t posted on this blog.)

Sometimes, we make plans not only for the day or week, but for the whole year and it seems like God says: “Nope, that’s what you thought you were going to be doing, but here’s really what I want you to do.”

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Over this past year, I keep coming back to this verse and just picture God really saying this to me. I really have no idea what is ahead of me, but it makes me excited to know that he has a much greater plan for me and my life than I could ever imagine! I make plans for my life, and even though at the time it’s painful when he says my plans aren’t good enough, it’s exciting to think that he DOES have something planned for me, and that he knows the future, and what is best for me. It’s a comfort. I might not know what is happening, today, tomorrow, next week, next year, but he already has my whole life planned out. So, before I go too far, let me explain why this has been such a valuable lesson to remember and what led me to these thoughts and this post.

I came to the US in December of 2015. My grandmother was becoming more and more blind and being able to do less and less things on her own. Because my parents are missionaries, it is not always easy for them to close up the ministries they are working on and head to take care of elderly parents. I had a job and was studying at the federal university, but the job wasn’t a job I couldn’t find elsewhere, and I could pause my studies at the university for a time. Thus began my adventures. I came to the US to live with my grandma and care for her, while I did some independent studies and focused on some of my hobbies and other things I wanted to learn. I wanted it to be sort of a sabbatical year, but it ended up being nothing sabbatical.

Two days after arriving, my grandma started not feeling very well. She had abdominal pain and almost constantly was feeling like she would vomit. She did vomit several times and started to not want to eat very much. On Christmas Day, we headed to my brother’s house to celebrate Christmas, but the whole time she was not feeling very well. We decided to take her to the ER to see what was wrong. It was then that we discovered she had several cancerous tumors all over her organs and it had already metastasized. At 91 years old, she didn’t understand the severity of the problem. For several weeks, she still had hope she would get better. When we saw that the painkillers were beginning to affect her mentally, and that her health and strength was declining very fast, my mom arrived here in the US only 3 weeks after I had. We took care of her for almost a month, when, at last, God took her and she stopped experiencing the suffering of this world.

After her passing, we had to take care of so many things: her funeral, her house, her things, so many documents, how to care for my grandpa, who was already living in an assisted living because of being mostly deaf and blind. I had come to the US with plans of taking care of my grandma and focus on my studies, but now I had to discover what I should do with my time here until the end of September when I had tickets to go back to Brazil. My brother invited me to live with him and his family, God showed me a great car to buy, and he gave me a great job where I would learn so much. I had great hopes to be able to advance in this job and learn so much more through the experience. I planned on staying longer, made plans for staying even into 2017. I planned on getting out and renting a little apartment with someone and using the furniture my grandma had left for me.

Very soon, however, the doors to staying here in the US started not only to close, but to slam shut. I never made many friends around here, didn’t get very involved in the church family, and things at work seemed to be getting worse. Several issues came to light and it really showed me that it was not God’s plan for me to stay here longer, but rather return to Brazil with my original tickets.

My plans here, have changed 4, 5, maybe even 6 times, but one of the best things is to know that I am going where God wants me right now. It gives me great peace. Even when everything seems to be going wrong, you have to spend more money on something you hadn’t planned, you have to change your life direction, or you have to make decisions you didn’t think you’d have to, even then, God reminds us that he takes care of us, and that he is interested and invested in our lives. It’s great to know that I am a priority in the all-knowing Creator’s plans.

“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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 29:11-14a)

Because of this time of the unknown and having to trust on the Lord, I’ve come to know Him deeper, and have been able to develop my relationship with Him even more. That was one of my main goals when I came here to the US, and even though it might not have been in the way that I had thought it was going to be, I don’t regret one bit, the events that have transpired, and the consequential depth and trust in my relationship with Christ.

So, my challenge to you, is to trust God, even when it seems like everything is going down the drain, that all your plans are to no avail and that nothing is going as planned. He does have plans for you, and he does want your best. Even though it might be difficult at the time, it is so very often in the difficult moments that he brings us closer to him, and makes us lean on him even more. Memorize the verses that I have written out here, so that, when those difficult times come, they will be an encouragement. In some of the next posts I hope to give a few more practical tips that can be used to help encourage us in those difficult times, but for now, I hope that my story has encouraged a few.

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