When Does Life EVER Go According To Plan?
Frequently? Seldom? We have all enjoyed life as the expected results of a plan processed successfully. But we often live in turmoil when the unexpected creeps or leaps in, and we struggle with the variety of direction needed to “make the best of it” or to turn the lemons into a delectable drink.
When younger, and before all the handy technology, I would plan every trip and enjoy the tools of a map, pencil and paper to document the plan. Unexpected things would happen, and before the days of cell phones, you often scrambled to find a pay phone to call for assistance.
Our one year wedding anniversary, July, 1975… A weekend trip to San Antonio, and a broke down new car on the way home. A payphone pointed us to some extended family members that gave us a place to stay, and a good mechanic that took several days over the 4th holiday to secure a part that needed to be shipped.
I’m not sure we ever thanked everyone who helped well enough, but a lesson learned was being better prepared for the unexpected!
We have all experienced a paycheck not big enough to meet the demands, or a breakdown of equipment or body that requires the use of credit instead of cash on hand, or forgetting to pay that important bill…. Well, you get it. This is a lengthy list of “or’s”.
Even as the world around us improves our abilities to access instantly the extra assistance needed, there are still times when everything you expect to happen simply fails.
On a short drive to a known destination, recently, I decided to turn down a new road. I’m always looking for someway different to a destination. As we trekked deeper into the mountains, I began to think that a “map” would have been something nice to examine before taking that Left Turn! Of course, the unexpected reared it’s head – no cell signal, and no map in the glove compartment.
Oh well, let’s make the best of the unexpected. We kept driving and ended up in our destination successfully. Only now, I have a new way to get there!
I was thinking of all the men who boarded the ship that day when it began to sail at a most inopportune time. Sailors, jailers, cargo-men, passengers. Even a man of God!
The Apostle Paul had given warning that the trip would not be without danger and injury. Instead of listening to the man of God, they listened to the master of the vessel, and set sail at the wrong time of the year. Winter storms like a tempestuous wind pounded the ship. Sails were no good. Fearful tat they would bottom the boat on the rocks, they under girded the ship with what extra strength they could use from the gear. Finally, blow after blow, the vessel could do nothing but be tossed about by the wind and waves. To save the ship and themselves they began to jettison the cargo. Food is gone. The skies are darkened and they could not see the sun or stars to determine where they were going.
All the expected results were thrown to the wind. No food. No equipment. No cargo. Now all they had were the unexpected fears. Hope was gone for the 276 souls on board.
Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned. Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island.” (Acts 27:18-26 ESV)
After 14 days of turmoil, and lost hope, they finally sensed they were nearing land. They “sounded” and found that the waters were getting shallower. Even with the voice of Paul resounding in their ears, there were still some who wanted to abandon ship. Paul warns the centurion again – stay with the ship or perish.
Can you understand the hopelessness? It’s not just the storm of the sea, but the storm of life’s choices. Sometimes we are tossed and turned by every thing around us, and yes, even within us. Our guts churn. Our minds grasp at straws. We look for salvation, or a solution, and are willing to do just about anything!
When life becomes the unexpected, you need something and someone to turn to! King David teaches us this over and again, but I love this one psalms that gives us a joyous answer.
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told. (Psalms 40:1-5 ESV)
This is where I think the unexpected steps of life prove out our trust in God. He continually takes me out of the bog of life. He makes my steps secure. He gives me a new song of praise.
And there is a witness of how God saved me through the unexpected times of life. My response and reaction is that very witness… Don’t abandon ship…. Wait for the salvation of your dilemma… God’s there all the time for the right solution at the right time!