I was a mother.
For 171 days, I loved on a child with special needs in hopes of adopting. Finally, I thought, a family. An answered prayer. Without the rose, then perhaps I was meant for the pearl. I joyfully busied myself with home cooked meals, play dates, swim lessons, bath times, and bedtime stories. Play therapy, timeouts, and countless temper tantrums later, love wasn’t enough, and there would be no adoption. The disappointment brings me to this blog entry and a question all believers at one time or another have asked.
What happens when our plans fail?
The short answer is: our resolve is tested. At some point, we all end up off the path we planned (sometimes through no fault of our own). No one gets out of this life without the equivalent of a vehicle collision. We’re coasting along and BAM! Like shattered glass, pieces of the past and the present pave the way to an uncertain future. We can choose to take the road back or the new way ahead. Fearful of the future, Jonah opted for an unsuccessful cut-and-run strategy. Overconfident in her current condition, Esther was forced to face the fact her status alone wouldn’t save her. Thankfully, Jesus’s journey to Calvary is a trail guide of sorts on how to proceed in the midst of adversity, angst, and yes, attack. His obedient perseverance shows us whether smooth or rocky, every path has a purpose.
The Lord will work out His plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me. (Psalm 138:8)
Foiled plans and disappointment can’t keep us from our destiny—unless we let them. A wrong turn isn’t the problem, it’s the conscious choice to go in the wrong direction.
As Esther witnessed with her free will, we have the same power to create our path and chart our course with God’s help—oftentimes with amazing results! However, lest we forget (like Jonah), God has the final say. While at times bitter, His sovereignty is soothing, a gentle reminder the destination is just as important as the journey. How else would we know when we’ve arrived?
And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
All isn’t lost; God is invested in our protection and direction, not just the outcome. If something didn’t work out, it just means the story doesn’t end there. The plot may have changed. Our character may have needed further development, but there are new chapters unfolding in all of us— even in the wake of indescribable disappointment. Never resent change; all we’ve been through is a training ground for where we’re going to.
The morning the social worker came to transition my foster daughter to a new home, she ran to hug me, knocking me down with the sheer force of her love and unbridled energy. I looked up at her, thinking how badly I wanted us to win. Everyone loves a winner, but our Heavenly Father has perfected the art of lifting up losers, dusting them off, and putting them back on the path for others to witness. When plans fail, remember the author of the next chapter. Let’s see what happens next.