“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13
I hate to admit it, but when I hear bad news, one of my first reactions, usually silently, is, “How is that going to affect me?” If my kids get sick and I have to cancel my date with my husband, I’m stuck on the computer all weekend because of a work deadline, the house needs to be cleaned top to bottom for the birthday party and my husband is working overtime, or I’m spending all day in the car shuttling my kids from various activities, birthday parties, and play dates, my first thought usually isn’t my sick child, the importance of teaching responsibility by following through with discipline, deadlines, and housework, or taking the time in the car to truly bond with my kids and have fun.
But why not? I think it’s pretty normal for our first reaction to be about ourselves and how decisions and actions affect us personally. However, we need to move past those first initial instincts and focus instead on the bigger picture. How can this inconvenience, disaster, or minor annoyance be used for the greater good? Maybe we can get creative and the money we saved by staying home all weekend with our sick child can be used for a weekend getaway during the off season. Maybe through our example of finishing our work to our best ability will encourage our children to persevere with their grades and get a scholarship for college. Maybe cleaning the house gives us some uninterrupted time to catch up with a friend on the phone, and maybe shuttling our children to various activities will allow the time to build trust, so that when the tough choices in life need to be made, they are comfortable to come to you and listen to your advice.
We need to remember that God created a bigger plan long before we were born. He knew what you were going to be doing, struggling with, the crises you would be facing, or the relatively “easy pace of life” that you would experience today before Adam even came into existence. He also knew how our choices, actions, and all those preceding us and following us would affect and influence the world we live in for years to come.
I’m glad I serve a God who has everything under control. I’m glad that He loves me enough to care about my feelings and opinions, and is willing to listen to my deepest desires. I love that He can (and has) changed His mind at times as a result of individual, earnest prayers, and I’m even more thankful that because He knows the bigger picture, He loves me enough to stand firm with His “no” for my own good.
So, the next time plans are uprooted, changed, altered, or destroyed, I’m sure my first thought will still be how it affects me personally, but I pray that I will very quickly change that thought to one of peace, that God has everything under control, and all I have to do is obey. Part of obeying is with a grateful attitude, trusting that He knows what’s best. The other part is setting a good example to those around me who may be having a harder time letting go of the previous agenda and accepting the new course.
What about you? The next time your plans are changed, what mindset are you going to choose?