What if things don’t go as you planned even when you’re seeking God
What if God says no to a dream, a job, a degree, a relationship?
What does the Bible say about our plans?
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9 ESV)..
We plan our way, we like to come up with scenarios of how our lives will look in the future. The world tells us, “If we work hard enough, if we set our hearts to seek after those things, and we will accomplish everything we plan to accomplish”.
However, according to this verse it says that though we may plan things with our heart, the Lord is the one who establishes our steps.
After I graduated college, I set on a new journey: Grad School, such a shiny sweet dream. Before I go on, I would like to say that education is so important. God wants us to educate ourselves and be successful, however, he is very specific in that all we do falls under HIS plans and not ours.
Up to this point in my life, things had gone as planned. (At least to me) I had graduated college before my 21st birthday, had a job I absolutely loved, and I was in a serious relationship. Things were going pretty good and, to me, they could not be better.
I have always been a planner and I love to excel in everything I do. I strongly believe that when we do things for the Lord and not for mankind we should aim to excel. (Please see, Colossians 3:23) So yes, absolutely, my grades held a pretty huge weight defining my identity. I had never failed a class, okay, -let’s put it this way- to me failing is anything under 90. I worked really hard in school, all through college I had given such an importance to my grades.
And when the grad school dream was compromised I fell apart.
The first time things did not seem to be going my way, I realized, I was not seeking God. Yes, He was pursuing me but my heart was in a classroom. I was too busy trying to cram all this material in my head, was using school as an excuse to not be involved at church, and I was not even studying my Bible. Obviously to me: work, school, my family, a relationship then, it was all more important to fit into my schedule and I was not giving time to God.
I went through a hard time where God just shook me down to my knees and I learned that I was not giving God first place in my life. This had to change and God used this broken dream and other failures to bring me back to Him. I thank Him because He did everything to have me back. You can read more about it in my testimony here.
When I answered God’s call and started seeking Him relentlessly my prayers changed. I was now asking God to pretty please allow grad school to happen. I was seeking God and I was confident, “Well, if He makes all things work together for my good, He’ll make grad school happen.”
But, nope… even in the midst of seeking God with my whole heart this door was not opening.
God was not establishing my steps as I had hoped, and something was very off, because I was working very hard in my power to be the very best, only to keep failing. I was putting all the work I could think of and seeking God relentlessly.
God has a way of working and the more I get to know Him the more mysterious and wonderful He becomes. I know that God has a plan for my life and if He wants grad school to happen for me, it will, in His time and not mine.
And it brings us to this next verse…
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21). When God says “no” to a dream, a relationship, a job, etc. you can give Him a “Thank You”. He is redirecting your steps to fulfill His plans which will always be better than our plans.
We can get up early, do alllll the things, but ultimately the purpose of the Lord is the one that will stand. Not ours. Remember that. And what a sweet thing it is to know that we have a purpose in life. A purpose that God has appointed to each and every one of us.
We have a purpose in life, yes we do. Sometimes we go in a direction that God has not called us to and question Him as to why it did not go the way we planned. When we seek God with all we have and get upset when something does not go our way,it’s like us saying:
“God I trust you, thy will be done and not mine but can you please make this work for me. Align this one goal for me and everything will continue to be well with my soul.”
That is not trusting God, it is trying to manipulate God. This might sound a bit harsh, but it is the truth. When we trust God, we give Him ultimate control of EVERY area in our lives. We open the door for Him to act on our behalf. We give Him the authority to guide our steps and lead us in His way for His purpose to be done in our lives. (See Proverbs 16:1)
So does this mean that if God paused or ended this goal for me that life with God is a life with no future and His plans are no good for us?
What does the Bible say about God’s plans for us?
“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 a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).
Also see, Romans 8:28 Galatians 4:18, Psalms 57:2.
Here we see a promise directly from the Lord. We know that we can take Him at His word. We can be confident that what He promises, He will do in our lives. His plans are to prosper us and not harm us. He gives us a future and a hope.
God is not simply closing a door and shutting us down leaving us in the same place. He is simply redirecting our path to get on His path. He is ultimately saying not your way but my way.
And isn’t that what our prayers say to Him? That His will be done in our lives and not ours. This is Him redirecting us to His plans which are to prosper us.
We can wait patiently in the Lord knowing that His time is perfect and it may not always align with our time.
Well that sounds pretty on paper but is it pretty in our day to day lives? What does trusting God’s redirection look like? It takes looking deep inside our hearts. Heart checks can be hard because we don’t always like what’s inside.
“My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26 NIV).
And no matter what we find inside our hearts we can cling onto God and know that He is our strength and our portion. He can take whatever it is we may find and make it new. He can tune our hearts to Him. (See Psalm 86:11) We can focus on understanding His love and His plans for our life.
When I focus on God, His love for me, on serving Him and others, then I understand that even though my grad school dream is not being fulfilled right at this moment, his plans for my life are better.
I can depend fully on Him and His purpose for me. I can wait in the midst of a broken dream.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long (Psalm 25:5 ESV).
Focusing on God, waiting in Him, being patient, seeking Him is something so beautiful. It’s having a relationship with Him, it’s being in love with our creator who will never leave us or forsake us. And I thank Him for giving us directions on how to do that.
All through scripture we find life hacks and tips straight from His heart to ours to help us in time of need. I encourage you to find verses in the Bible that you can cling to at all times but ,especially during times of need, and place them somewhere where you can see them through your day and be reminded that He is in control and that His plans for you are to prosper you and not harm you.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12 ESV).
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of Grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).