It's furlough time! Well at least that's what we thought.
In just about 2 months, we will have been in the Philippines for 4 years.
Our plan, since September 2009, was to go back to the USA this summer or early fall. But, because of a very complicated visa situation, we now have to wait until the end of 2013 or early 2014. Lord-willing, we will make it to the USA for Christmas this year. We'll see.
This isn't exactly news to us, because it's happened throughout our life---We didn't exactly plan to have 4 kids in three years.
And when I was four years old, I still remember planning to go and live in Paraguay in South America, because that's where my dad was going to be a missionary pilot. And I still remember, two days before we were supposed to leave, my parents came and told me that our plans had changed. We would go West instead of South-- To Southeast Asia instead of South America.
Basically what I really remembered from that as a 4-year old was that we were planning to go to Disney World in Florida before going to South America, and we never got to go.
Our plans change. But God's never do. And His are better in the end. (Although it can often take a while to get to the point where I can admit that.)
So, I lost Disney World for a day, but I grew up within minutes of a beach with coral reefs and close to a mountain stream that had a waterfall you could slide down. And, I ended up going to Disneyland on furlough anyway.
In Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) He reminds us:
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Lots of us probably know the verse, probably even memorized it at some point. But it's good to be reminded of the context...It was written to a group of folks whose plans had turned to dust--- They had lost their homes and ended up in exile in a foreign country.
We chose to live abroad, these folks were forced to go. They had probably made lots of life plans, and now they were all gone. But God reminds them, He still has good plans for all of them, even if they have lost hope. They don't need to worry.
And for a lot of us, our plans haven't worked out the way we wanted them to. Could be a lost job, a broken marriage, or relationships with our kids that are not working out the way we had envisioned.
But, in the midst of a seemingly impossible situation, God reminded his people---Their plans may have turned to dust. But He still had good plans for them.
They may have lost hope-- and feared for the future. But He promised to give them hope and a future.
When the finances are drying up, or the job is gone, or you have to wait seemingly an eternity for your kids to get to go back to the USA to see their grandparents,and tomorrow seems full of uncertainty, God has our back. He knows our future, and He has our truly best interests at heart.
It doesn't mean life will be easy. But when Plans seem to be unraveling, and life has gone crazy, I know He is still in control.
He is in control, and He has The Plan. He can see a future Me---one who survived the insanity of life by relying on Him, and as I did so, became more and more conformed to the image of His Son. He knows what I can be, I just have to be willing to let Him change me. Even when it hurts. A lot.
One of my favorite parts in the Chronicles of Narnia is in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where Eustace has become a dragon, and only Aslan, the Christ-figure, can change him back to a boy. At first, Eustac tries to tear the dragon skin off himself, and some comes off, but his efforts are in vain. Aslan tells Eustace that only he can help him...with his huge lion claws...And Eustace recounts what happened next...
I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know – if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.
Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I was smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on – and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again.”
-C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Good book--- with lots of good allegorical reminders of Who is truly in control, and that He willing to change us. Even if He has to dig really deep, and even if it might hurt.
Because He knows the endgame.
I can spend my days and nights worrying about tomorrow, and my plans. Or, I can put my hand in the One who knows all my tomorrows, and rest in the One who made The Plan.