• Hope Butcher

When You’re A Planner (but God is throwing you a surprise party)

I don’t really like surprises...unless it’s a wrapped gift under the Christmas tree. Let me rephrase--  I don’t really like not being in on plans and therefore I don’t really like knowing there’s going to be a surprise and I’m not in on it. I have several things working against me. First, I’m a planner and usually have it all worked out well in advance. I set the date it’s going to happen, who’s going to be involved and even imagine down to the smallest detail how I’m going to feel and how they might feel when it happens. Second, I’m kinda shy so the idea of something happening to me that I’m not expecting and others being in on it and observing my reaction totally freaks me out. The third thing is that I have a very investigative mind. Seriously, I think I could solve crimes (and often try in my spare time)! I find myself in a constant state of observation, recording clues about the people around me and the things they are saying, trying to understand what they’re thinking and diagnose what kind of person they are. And, I almost always get it right.

God knows I'm a planner and He's the one that has been helping me develop my organizational skills through the years. He knows I thrive in that context and He knows I'm comfortable. The only thing is, HE doesn't actually like being crammed inside all my spreadsheets and planner boxes. HE doesn't thrive there and HE doesn't always participate in that paradigm with me. I used to take offense to it. When things didn't fit in those boxes I had designed, I used to blame outside forces or the flaws of other people. I even blamed myself. Surely, I must have made a mistake somewhere or this outcome wouldn't have played out. I used to kick and scream about it. I used to cry out to the Lord, "I did what I thought I was supposed to do!" "I had it all worked out!" "I thought You liked for me to be responsible!". Year after year I watched Him remove all my self-reliance. I watched Him take away my safety net. I felt Him drawing me out, past the places I had built camp. 

It's not that He doesn't appreciate my responsible nature. It's not that He doesn't ever reward my planning and my systems. He does, on a daily basis. It's that He wants to grow my faith and He knows me better than anyone else. He knows that if He doesn't take some of those control factors away, I may just work it all out the way I want it and never realize the wonder of Him. While I'm busy adulting, I'll miss all the magic and beauty He wants to show me. 

Ironically, even with all my planning, I'm also a worrier. Even after I've planned it all out, down to the smallest detail, there is still that fear that things won't go as planned and disaster will strike. I recently heard someone talk about worry. They said, "Christians have made worrying responsible." Man! That really hit me right in the face! That describes me and my mindset perfectly. I live carefully, deciding every detail and by worrying I'm letting you know that this is really important. I want you to know that every detail I laid out is really crucial to the whole system and if something doesn't go right, and then my fallback doesn't work out either, it won't be because I didn't do my best or because I didn't care enough about it. If I worry, it convinces you and God that I care and that I have everything resting on this. Therefore, it should probably work out, because I really meant it, with all my heart. Isn't that what we do? We hand God our worry in our prayer and stand back, hoping and praying His compassion will be moved by our fear.

We hand God our worry in our prayer and stand back, hoping and praying His compassion will be moved by our fear.

But THAT'S NOT FAITH! I'm not saying we should live recklessly and give half-hearted efforts to God and call that faith either. What I am saying is that we give all we have, do all we can do, then we hand it ALL over to God and TOTALLY depend on Him to see it through, knowing that if it doesn't go as we planned, there are probably details to God's plan that He has chosen not to reveal to us yet.  There are probably details we aren't ready for,

There are probably details we aren't ready for...

details that would have altered our commitment had we known them from the start, details that would have lessened the value of the outcome for us. He knows all of that and He has a plan, and His plan has our good and His glory in mind.

Jesus was preaching about worry and right after He said all those famous things about the birds of the air and the beautiful flower He said,

"So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God's kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly."

(Matthew 6:33 TPT)

Constantly CHASE after the realm of God's kingdom

I love that phrasing because I think it encapsulates God's nature. He loves the chase. He loves to hide treasures and surprises for us and He delights in the thrill of having us seek His ways and find Him. Like children, who are at the height of joy and laughter and wonder as they seek and find and discover on a sunny afternoon, that's the picture God gives us.

As adults, we have to have it all worked out, and we're afraid for anyone to find out that we didn't do a good job. Many days we don't know what to do next. Many days we don't have the answers to the whys. We don't have to pretend with God. If we would stop seeing the solution to our problem as the end of our seeking and finding, as the treasure at the end, if we could stop obsessing over everything being just so and everything being fair and square, if we could stop seeking the resolution and start seeking Him,

if we could stop seeking the resolution and start seeking Him

we would find Him there every time and we would find that He's all we ever wanted and all we ever needed anyway.

I've almost learned to stop striving. I've reached a new level in my seeking where when the enemy tries to creep in and convince me to set my eyes on my problem or the challenge, I just tell him to hit the road. I tell him he isn't welcome and that he hasn't been invited to play. This is between me and God and He needs to go home. I tell him the solution to the problem isn't the point anyway and he doesn't understand the way God and I play.

I can't believe the perspective I've been given over the course of this journey, the way my eyes have been opened to a Kingdom way of thinking, a Kingdom way of seeing challenges. So many challenges I would have perceived in the past as problems, I now see as gifts and opportunities. I'm not saying I'm never overwhelmed or that I never have fear, I'm just finally learning to readjust my thinking and refocus my vision. We found out earlier this year that our two year old son has been diagnosed with special needs. There have been a lot of perspectives shared with us that come from a grim reality, that stem from a place of hopelessness and worry. The beautiful part of it all is that God began speaking to me about this challenge even before I knew it was a thing. He gave me words and visions before this chapter even began that rooted me in Him, that deepend my trust and cemented my resolve that He has a plan. There are still days when it's really hard to keep that perspective. There are many overwhelming moments that make me tired and tell me to feel hopeless but

there are enough moments of God's hope breaking through that chaos and darkness.

He sustains me. He gave me a vision and a word about my son before I ever saw this coming and not only do I have that to hang on to, I even get excited thinking about the opportunity and all the glory God will get from this story. 

This Kingdom way of thinking is totally different. You're probably not going to find it in a psychology book, they would probably call it denial. You're probably not going to get it through advice from friends. They are well-meaning but typically swing from one extreme of fake positivity to another extreme of grim reality. In the Kingdom our ending is already decided. We are children of the King, we are safe, we are secure and His promises are true. In the Kingdom hope is not denial, hope is the knowing in your gut that even during the current circumstances, even during the disappointing or devastating diagnosis, God is still in charge and He is still working, and our job is not to figure out how it's all going to be, our job is to seek His face, to deepen our relationship with Him and our understanding of His nature. To do what He does, to say what He says. To root our identity in that Kingdom and THAT reality.

I pray for you today that you will be given eyes to see differently. I pray that all the promises and words spoken prophetically over your life will be brought to mind, that they will pierce that darkness and that the presence of His Spirit in your life will cause fear and worry to tremble and flee. 

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