God’s Plans and Ours
As organizational leaders and as individuals leading a life, we have no choice but to make rational, linear plans to organize our future activities and maximize our chances of success. But God feels no obligation to stop ordering the steps of the righteous just because they may have made other plans. Perhaps that inherently spiritual and immanently practical truth seems all the more relevant in the face of all the disruptions that have emanated from the coronavirus pandemic. So many plans have been ruined that planning seems almost silly in the face of the constant changes in context and rules and opportunities that have accompanied this crazy season. But sometimes it takes a great deal of faith to trust that God remains at work in our lives when our plans fall apart. Getting discouraged comes a lot more naturally than believing that God remains in control.
For those who have entered the Kingdom of God, the most basic truth remains steadfast—God rules our lives. Circumstances do not rule. Disruptions do not reign. Our plans must always remain tentative. God has the last word. The victory of God will not evaporate into defeat and frustration for those who trust in God.
Recently, I made plans to visit a prominent leader in Singapore. The pandemic had cancelled my plans to meet with him in March, 2020, but after much frustration, it finally appeared that I could meet with him on January 5 this year. Nevertheless, on December 26 my plans fell completely apart due to travel restrictions related to the pandemic. Oddly enough, my friend John Lindell of James River Church in Ozark, Missouri, had invited me in November to speak at their church on January 5. I politely explained that I could not accept due to my plans to visit Singapore. But John told his staff not to book the service with anyone else, as he had a conviction from the Lord that I would be there. On December 21, they invited me to come for the service if my plans changed due to the pandemic. I again politely explained that I would be in Singapore come what may. But on December 26, it became clear that I could not possibly get to Singapore for my meeting on January 5.
God knew where I needed to be, but I totally missed it. Finally, on January 2, it occurred to me to send a text message to David Lindell, John’s son and the executive pastor of the church, asking whether they still wanted me to come. Expecting that very outcome, David urged me to book a ticket right away. My go-to airline, Alaska Airlines, had a flight available for $2,000, but I wasn’t willing to spend that much money to make a one-day trip. Continuing to search, I found a flight on American Airlines for a fraction of that amount—the amount I would have expected to pay with plenty of notice. So I grabbed the booking, flew to Springfield, and showed up to preach at James River Church on January 5.
I had the time of my life at a church so uncommonly full of revival and faith. Whether my ministry offered any value to them that anyone else could not have offered, I could not possibly guess. What I know is that the trip changed my life! Private things I cannot share occurred because I did not go to exotic Singapore as I had planned, but rather, to my adopted hometown of Springfield/Ozark. I had plans, but God . . . had better plans for me.
Leading an organization presents difficulties in the very best of times, and frankly, these are not they. None of us will ever look back on the pandemic years as golden years. They have challenged us all to our wits’ ends. But they have also taught us important things. Among them, write down this one and remember it the next time your life gets disrupted: God’s plans are better than ours.