What Happens When Things Don’t Go According to Plan
From the time I could use a crayon, I was drawing cars. My dad was a car guy, and I had other family working in the car industry. Early on, I knew I would end up in the car industry. The dream of designing cars became my focus, especially being born and raised in Michigan, the Motor City. Like anyone with a dream, I planned my life accordingly to that; school, jobs, etc. Designer for GM was the end goal, and before I knew it, I had worked my way into that exact position. Dream achieved, I had made it. This was my life now. I had a great job and good financial stability for my growing family, the American dream.
Everything went according to plan.
Then one day, without warning, it was gone. I got let go from my job. Everything I thought I had worked for in life just ended. The dream, the stability; gone. I felt lost in the why and, even more, the what now?
As Christmas approaches, I can’t help but see these same feelings in the story of Joseph. In the Gospel book of Matthew, we see glimpses of Joseph as the direction of his life is completely changed forever. He probably had a plan for his life: an established job as a carpenter, he had a home all ready for a family, and now he was engaged to be married. The “dream” was getting closer. And then, God changed the plan.
If you haven’t heard the early story of Jesus’s parents, it’s perfectly spelled out in Matthew 1. We read here:
“When Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
The woman he loved was pregnant, and it wasn’t his baby. His plans for his life were interrupted. Now I haven’t been in those exact shoes, but I’m sure many of us can relate to how he must have been feeling and questioning. Why is life falling apart? What is going on, God? Or maybe less of a question and more of a declaration: God, that’s not part of the plan!
As the months passed, going to so many job interviews for other design positions, God continued working, but I just couldn’t see it. During this time of waiting, He was asking me to trust in His plan, not my own. It’s not easy. What’s easy is to hesitate, just like Joseph did when he initially heard the news from Mary.
Then God threw me a curveball. While not a single design job opportunity presented itself for months, He had something perfect and beautiful in store for me. After hope in the right job seemed to be slipping through my grasp, He brought me to Woodside to work in Student ministry. I had zero experience and would have never thought this was where my life was heading. I mean, my dream was GM and cars! Ministry was never on my radar. It took closing every possible door to my previous plans, eliminating all control over my own life, to place me perfectly in this role here in ministry.
But here’s the thing, we have to be obedient! This call God had placed on me was scary. And what does God tell us, “fear not.” I was going entirely outside of my comfort zone to do something completely new and foreign. And God again says, “fear not.” My reliance would be totally on God for every ounce of this new season. Obedience seemed daunting. The job was uncertain. Yet again, “fear not.”
Again, I think about Joseph’s story. First, Mary drops this bombshell on him, and then an angel gives Him a command from God! He had his hesitations, but what do we see in his reaction? We keep reading:
“When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”
He obeyed. It wasn’t the plan. It was scary, and it was uncertain. But he trusted God’s plan over his own. And what happened to Joseph from there? He was privileged with the chance to raise God’s son! What a blessing that must have been, right? Joseph’s obedience led to an unbelievable opportunity from God.
As scary as the situation must have been, obedience to God’s plan won out in Joseph’s life. Obedience is hard, and I can attest to that challenge. Maybe you have been in a similar situation. Some of you reading this may have already seen the result of obedience. While others might still be in the comfort zone or possibly at the point of choosing the next path for life. My plan or God’s plan? But if Joseph’s story tells us anything, it’s this: regardless of how inconvenient or uncomfortable God’s plan is for our lives, following His call will always bring us closer to Him and His glory. I so deeply appreciate the little glimpses of Joseph’s story, which is such a testimony and encouragement!
So, when our plans fall through, and our dreams fall apart, let’s follow the example of Joseph; trust God’s plan and obey!