There’s always a beauty and a tension in life. In the moments when you make a plan about how you want your life to look like and go. And then in the end, 99% of the time, it doesn’t end up that way. Rarely when you do make plans, does it do go to plan. Usually we are left with hindsight and looking back, and realising that where you are right now is far from where you wanted to be, either good or bad. And it is in that moment when we realise that there’s always a tension, from wanting to just follow the plan, to accepting that not only is the plan going to change, but rather, we’re going to end up in a place far from what we have initially expected. How do we reconcile these thoughts? How do we come to a peaceful place of being at a restful state, accepting that yes, I do have plans, but I have to be content that my plan will change? Because frankly, we are a controlling bunch of humans, aren’t we? We love to plan things and line it all up in a nice neat row. Never once do we realise that to follow a path, especially the one that we know God has laid out for us, is far more rewarding than we can ever fathom. But what happens when we can’t see what’s in front of us? When God doesn’t make it clear? When our plan goes out the window, and the Lord encourages us to follow Him- into the unknown, the places where we travel with only faith and trust as our guides, into the places where plans and maps are of no use? What then?
Now this is not a ‘plan’ knocking session. Far from it. I reckon it’s good to plan your life out. Where you want to be in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, in terms of career family etc. What do you want in a spouse, or in a friend? What car do you want to drive and where do you want to live when you’re older? These are all valid questions, and they all need some sort of template/answer in your own mind. But let me say this- plans change. When things come out of left field and you start to wonder…it’s ok. Often, the most unique and beautiful things can come from the unexpected. You know the usual saying ‘when love comes, your criteria for a spouse goes out the window?’ Because I’m sure it’s true. Sure you have your fundamental core values that you would never compromise on, and you hope your significant other shares these values as you, but apart from that, everything else is superfluous. You’ll meet your significant other, you’ll fall in love, and everything else that you have on your ‘criteria’ list that is not on your non-negotiables will just fall away. And that’s ok.
I guess the same goes with lists and plans for other things too. Even if everything goes south, or north, or just around the corner, we need to just be ok to sit and stew in the tension a bit. To wrestle with the Lord and ask Him why He has placed us where we are- A instead of B, a place of turmoil instead of a smooth sailing sea. And even if God stays silent in those moments (God never really is silent, it’s just that we can’t often hear or see His handiwork in the times of our own difficulties), let us all remember, that God is ultimately in control, and that if we need to take a leap of faith and follow the steps in the sand, or the headlights that God places in front of us that only shine for a couple of metres, then so be it. Even if we place everything we have, our trust, faith and everything else, in the Lord at that moment of uncertainty, it’ll still be worth it, knowing full well that whatever comes out of trials and tribulations will I’m sure shape us into people who learn and grow a lot, maybe even more so than if such tragedies never happened in the first place.
But still through all of this, there’s still a tension that we have that won’t go away. That keeps nagging at us. You know it, I know it. It’s the one that comes when we are faced with this- trusting wholeheartedly in following something we cannot see. In taking it step by step into the unknown, when all we know is just one foot in front of the other. It’s like driving a car when all the visibility we have is just whatever the headlights show. It’s when we’re in the moment of not knowing what happens in a years’ time or even in a few months’ time. Are we cool with the ‘not knowing’. No, we’re not. Because we want to know. We want to see and understand, to hopefully want our own plans to come into fruition whenever we’re knocked off-course. But then it comes to the point when we have to acknowledge that the Lord knows better than us. And what He is painting is far beyond our own comprehension. That the tapestry once it is done will look far beyond whatever we can conceive (in a good way). Even if we may feel like in the moment like our life is over, it’s not. We still get up and carry on again. We still make plans, even if all the other plans gone before become awry. We still soldier on because that is what we are. We are fighters. We are warriors. We press on, knowing full well that our strength doesn’t come from ourselves, but from the Lord, who gives us courage and wisdom, hope and the power to move into the next day with a realisation that our own knowledge into what we want our lives to become is only just a glimpse into what the Father has already realised!
I know it’s hard to walk by faith even if every inch of our body is screaming out for us to know what the outcome would be, to know whether our plan leads to our ideal life or not. But sometimes it’s ok not to know. Sometimes we need to be content to just follow the headlights and that is it. To walk by faith and to declare that even if we don’t see what is ahead, that we’ll still trust the Lord. It’s ok to love the Lord and be beside Him when things are going well and when life is working out ok. It is when things are tough that our faith is tested. Because at the end of the day, our faith we have isn’t a feeling. No it’s not something that will ebb and flow as we wake up in the morning and have a different mood. No our faith is concrete, centred in the Word of the Father and central to this fact- that Christ came to die for each of us, to carry the weight of everyone’s sin upon His shoulders, to humble Himself and die in our place. And then, rise again from the death, 3 days later.
So all our plans…why should we worry? What does it gain? To have control and then to know that we didn’t really have control in the first place…it messes with our heads, but isn’t it a beautiful thing to just lay everything down at the foot of the cross and just sit back and watch God weave His perfect tapestry, even if we may not understand or fully agree with what He is undertaking in our lives at that very moment? I know a heavy question, and I’ve been wrestling with this as well. And this is where some songs that I’ve listened to recently have come into focus for me, as I reflect on what God has said through these melodies. ‘God is God’, from Grammy Award winning artist Steven Curtis Chapman, was written a while ago in 2011, where the message of the track is very clear, that in fact, God is God and we are not. We can’t see everything that is going on, nor do I reckon we should. Because ultimately, we want the easy life. If we knew that there would be pain and heartbreak, things happen that will shape us into more resilient people than before, we’d want to take away the pain. We probably wouldn’t want the growth, because of the pain that comes with it. There I said it, we want the easy life. But sometimes easy isn’t what is necessary to focus on things that matter.
And then there’s ‘Headlights’ by six sister-band Cimorelli. From their 2016 album Up at Night, ‘Headlights’ (along with songs like ‘Brave Heart’ and ‘Worth the Fight’) are one of the most emotional songs I’ve heard on the album, and for good reason too. While the song doesn’t mention anything about God (it doesn’t need to for it to be used by the Lord to impact and encourage), it does present a theme about following headlights in the general direction we want to go, and we all know that headlights only show us part of the way instead of lighting up our whole path. There’s an element of faith and trust when it comes to reciting and singing the words of this song. We ought not to take these words lightly, as we’re met with a hard hitting chorus, and how ‘…I got two headlights and a thousand miles to go, two hundred feet of light on this dark and windy road, midnight stars haunt my skies, burning scars fill my mind, waiting on a wish to come true, maybe I can find my way back to where I belong, just following my headlights, headlights, maybe I don’t have to see where I’m going, just follow my headlights…’ There’s a sense of trust and hope within these words, of following and abandoning any sense of trying to be in the lead or in control. Because that’s what plans are. An attempt to control a life that could learn so much more from just stopping the need to be in control and to just be in the presence of God, and to be reminded, maybe and often on a daily basis, that God has this all covered, life, love, the plans of us and whole existence, covered. We don’t have to worry about a thing. It may take some time to not worry, but in the end, we can rest assured that plans are malleable, and what we experience in our lives, good or bad, will give glory to God in whatever way God wants them to. That what we experience won’t go to waste in the eyes of the Lord. That nothing is wasted, not one tear, not one triumph or hurt, nothing will be by the wayside. And all we just have to do is just sit back and watch the Lord create something that even ourselves will be proud of!
As I finish off this post, let me pose a few questions- what things in your life do you believe has been ‘wasted’? Are you still living in the tension of plans and whether to have everything mapped out? Faith, hope and trust, what happens when we’re running low on all these three? What advice can you give to others about how to spend time not worrying, and what we all should do to learn to stop controlling every situation we are in? Let us all know in the comment section, til next time. And remember, it’s ok if we’re like Gideon in the bible, placing out fleeces and asking the Lord for 50,000 signs about what to do is the right thing to do. Let us remember though that whatever we undertake, the Lord will be with us, every step of the way. All we can do is just follow the headlights, and everything will be ok!