|NE SNOWY MORNING, I left church with a simple "to do" list. It included "Go to church, go home, and relax with the family." Nowhere on the list was "fishtail around an icy curve, become airborne, flip my van, barely miss a telephone pole, puncture the gas tank, and crash upside down in a cow pasture." But that's just what I did.|
My plans flew out the shattered windshield, as I peered out at the world upside down. (Does it turn your world upside down when things don't go as you'd planned?) Amid the odorous cow pies, I observed a herd of hefty Holsteins hot-footing it away from the accordion-shaped vehicle, which had sailed over the barbed wire fence.
This was not my idea of a fun afternoon. There I was, standing on my head, trying to pry open a door that was scrunched into the side of a hill. I smelled gas leaking into the van and I heard my knees knocking. As I pulled glass shards from my head, I envisioned this gas-filled time bomb exploding and blasting me heavenward like a circus clown from a canon. All I could do was tremble and pray. Once again, life had happened while I was making other plans.
While I did not fly to the moon, and my van did not explode, I was rescued by a passing motorist and whisked away in an ambulance to the Emergency Room. As is often the case, my plans changed in the blink of an eye.
When I think I've planned for all the details and I lay out the perfect blueprint for my life, here's what usually happens: The reality bird comes along and lays an ugly, giant egg in the middle of my agenda!
I've learned that, rather than falling into place, life will more likely fall to pieces. It's like an ice cream cone. I might think I have it licked; but then it drips all over me.
"But," I say to myself, "Life wasn't supposed to be this way!" I don't know about you, but I planned to stay healthy/wealthy/young/beautiful/married/happy/unwrinkled, stretch mark free, and flabless forever. (You can fill in your own blanks.)
Wait a minute. Am I looking at life from the viewpoint of what I want or from God's perspective of what is best?
Most people think God wants them to have an easy, comfortable life, getting what they want when they want it. While it's true that God enjoys giving good things to His children, they're often not physical things. He wants to provide invisible gifts, such as a closer relationship with Him.
God's ultimate goal is for me to become like Him. That doesn't happen when everything's rosy.
When my plans change, I tend to forget that God has a higher goal for me than just a life of ease. He wants to work on my heart and build my character. I believe God cares about my struggles and He hurts when I hurt, but what is most important to Him is developing in me faith, patience, goodness, and gentleness. In other words, God wants to make me like Jesus. Though He doesn't cause struggles and hardships, He uses them to accomplish His goals for my life.
According to Philippians 3:20, "Our citizenship is in heaven." We were created for a different life than this one on earth. This one is just a rehearsal designed to prepare us for the real thing.
When my plans don't succeed, I ask what God's plan might be. Could it be that He allowed a certain situation to redirect my focus? Could He be trying to get my tunnel vision off myself? Maybe He wants to lead me toward a closer relationship with Him.
Instead of telling God my plan and making Him laugh, maybe I should seek to know HIS plan and make Him smile.
Marsha Jordan is a disabled grandmother, author, and shower singer who began her writing career on the bathroom walls of St. Joseph's Catholic Elementary School. Now her writing appears in restrooms throughout the country. Jordan has two boys, ages 30 and 55. She's been married to the 55 year old for 31 years.
She's been held captive for a quarter of a century In the north woods of Wisconsin where she shares an empty nest with her rocket scientist husband and their badly behaved toy poodle, King Louie who rules the household with an iron paw.
After her grandson was badly burned, Jordan created The HUGS and HOPE Foundation, a nonprofit charity devoted to cheering critically ill and injured children.
Jordan's inspirational and humorous essays are available in her new book, "Hugs, Hope, and Peanut Butter." The book is illustrated with drawings by kids who are battling for life.
More columns by Marsha Jordan