Wednesday, July 2, 2008

God's Plan A (also known as my plan b)

A while back I wrote about building an altar to commemorate an important spiritual milestone. You know, those times when God shows up really big in your life, or those times when you reach a new level, or those times when you have a huge revelation that completely transforms the way you look at things.

I have a "faith altar" experience that happened over a series of years during and after college. I'll try to give you the Reader's Digest version...

When I went off to college, my goal was to work in the Christian music industry. (And that is a whole other story for another time!) The college I went to hosted a Christian music festival every year, and it was completely student run. I arrived on campus thinking, "Wouldn't it be incredible if I could be the director of the festival my senior year?"

I applied to be a part of the staff. I was not selected.

I was very disappointed, but I thought, hey, I'm just a freshman. I'll focus on getting involved in other areas on campus and then I'll apply again next year.

My sophomore year I had high hopes. I knew several of the people who were key decision makers. I had established a reputation for being a dependable worker. I was certain that this would be my year.

And then, it wasn't my year.

I vividly remember going to my mailbox, knowing that other students had already received their acceptance or rejection letter. I nervously opened it and then stared in disbelief. I had been rejected. Again.

I was bitterly disappointed and headed off to my room to have a good cry. Along the way I saw other students excitedly telling their friends that they had been chosen. "Why them and not me?" is what I angrily asked God.

After crying it out I decided that I would move on. If that wasn't God's plan for me, then I would focus my energy on other opportunities that came my way. But believe me, I was still bitter about the whole situation.

Later in the year, I was talking with my advisor and she noted that I had enough credits to graduate a semester early. I thought about it and prayed about it, and decided that I would graduate early.

Fast forward to the end of my sophomore year, and through a series of events I ended up on the staff of the music festival. It was exactly where I had wanted to be in the first place, and I was absolutely in seventh heaven.

After the festival I was asked by the next year's director to take on an Executive Cabinet position. Of course I said "YES!" I was even more in seventh heaven.

The next year (my junior year, for those of you keeping score at home) the director approached me and asked if I would be interested in being the director my senior year.

I said, "I would love nothing more, but I've already decided to graduate a semester early." I had already planned my finances based on not being there for second semester and there was no way I could come up with the money to stay around.

I was disappointed to turn down the very position I had coveted before even coming to college.

BUT... it made me wonder what God was up to. If I had been on the festival's staff from the very beginning, I never would have decided to graduate early. I wondered what God might have up his sleeve.

I finished my coursework in January of 2000 and soon after I moved to Nashville. I ended up going to a temp agency, who sent me off to my very first assignment... in the office of the Billy Graham Crusade that was set up in Nashville, just for that year.

It was perfect timing. If I had graduated in May and moved to Nashville in June, I would have completely missed the Crusade.

I spent three years working with the Crusades - I was a part of eight Crusades in eight different cities. (Nashville, Jacksonville, Louisville, Fresno, Cincinnati, Dallas/Ft. Worth, San Diego and Oklahoma City.) It was absolutely the most amazing experience of my life.

(Well, aside from being a wife and a mom, of course.)

I look back at the sophomore college student who was so disappointed at not being accepted. I couldn't understand why the door would be shut in my face, when everything had indicated that I was "in". I couldn't understand why other students, who didn't care as much as I did, would be chosen and I would be left by the wayside.

I couldn't understand why my Plan A had failed. I didn't want Plan B.

Now I know that God's Plan A was so much better. He was already down the road, arranging things so that I could take advantage of a really exciting opportunity.

But in order for his Plan A to work out, he had to shut the door on my plan.

He knew it would hurt. He knew I would be disappointed. I envision him watching me and saying, "Hang on Erin! Just hang on, and trust in me, because I have something even better to give you."

Whenever a door closes on my Plan A, I remember this experience. I remember to hang on, and trust that God has something else in mind. I might not understand it for a very long time - heck, I might not understand it until I get to heaven - but I can still trust that my Heavenly Father has my best interests at heart.

We put an offer on a house on Monday night, and found out yesterday that someone else made a better offer. So, we didn't get the house.

The worst part of it is switching mental gears again. I went from thinking that the search could be over, and was mentally settling into this house. Where would I put the furniture? What work would we need to do on it? What colors would I paint the walls? Now I have to switch back to the mode of evaluating potential homes.

Even though I'm not looking forward to gearing up for round two of the house search, I'm at peace, knowing that God has it all under control. I trust that he shut the door on this house because he knew it wouldn't be right for us. I also trust that he has the perfect house for us, and he will reveal it to us at just the right time.

Has a door been shut on your Plan A? If so, be encouraged.

Isaiah 55:8-9

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts."


Tracy Z. said...

Great blog, Erin! What an encouraging message - one that I needed to hear right about now. See, God is even working through your blog! Way to keep a positive attitude!

Jackie @ Our Moments Our Memories said...

Oh, girl. This is one of the MOST encouraging things I have read recently. So, so true. I have at least two of my own Plan B's (but God's Plan A's) going on in my life right now, and I really don't like it. But I know down the road I'll look back and say, "Wow!"
You've got some great insight.