Have you ever worked hard to get the details of something mapped out just right only to have whatever it is not go according to plan? My guess is that we’ve all been there. In fact, I just finished up representing Impact Prayer Ministry at a major Christian convention and it felt like the entire experience was one adjustment after another with nothing going quite as I had planned. I suspect I’m not the only one who experiences such change-ups on a regular basis, so what should you and I do when life turns out to be not as planned? Here are some ideas based on my recent trip:
- Look for the silver lining. I had planned to be on the road early Monday morning in order to get to the convention center for the start of the exhibit set-up time. A delayed start meant I would not get there when I wanted, but as I arrived in Indianapolis later than anticipated, I realized I was just in time for an early lunch at Skyline Chili! This was a treat for me that I don’t get often and one that I would have missed out on had things gone according to my plan. Not everything that doesn’t go as planned will turn out better than what you had hoped, but often there will be something in the midst of the changes that might even be better than what you had planned.
- Trust God with the changes you have no control over. I had chosen my location in the exhibit hall very carefully as I would be directly across the aisle from a “Pastor’s Lounge” that was very popular at last year’s convention. I’m one who diligently studies exhibit hall floor plans trying to figure out the natural flow of people so I can choose a location most likely to get the most visibility. When I arrived, there was no “Pastor’s Lounge” set up across from my space as the sponsor had decided not to have a presence at the convention. This left me at the end of an aisle that went nowhere and my plans for a high traffic flow vanished in a way I could do nothing about. Because there was nothing I could do about this change in the hall layout, all I could do was trust God to bring the people by the display that He would want me to connect with. Even the best made plans are often subject to changes by others that you simply cannot control and cannot even anticipate. In those times, trusting God really is the only option.
- Watch for God’s plan to unfold in the midst of yours falling apart. This comes after you learn to trust God that He knows what He is doing even when your plans disintegrate before your very eyes. As I found myself in a less visited part of the exhibit hall than I had anticipated, I discovered that God amplified the depths of the conversations I was able to have with the people He brought to me. I’m not sure I’ve ever been a part of having so many people moved to tears by the work God was doing in their life. Yet as I shared the printed resources and some of the stories behind them, God used the experience to speak deeply to many people — and through their reactions, to speak deeply to me as well. I believe God wants us to do our best for Him, but in the midst of our best we must watch for something even better. Often God uses my plans to get me to a certain point, and then disrupts my plans to get me to a place even further than I ever would have dreamed.
In the midst of all the disrupted plans, God continued to work and I was able to put about 500 prayer-based devotional books into the hands of people who were looking to grow in their connection to God through prayer. I praise God that He continues to provide the resources to make the books available and the inspiration to keep writing them. I came away from the convention encouraged by the work God is doing in and through me even when things don’t go as planned — at least not as I planned. 🙂