What Happens When Our Plans Are Lost?
Some people are planners. I know that I certainly am. I like to feel prepared and in control. I plan and prep my meals. I make to do lists. I have a budget and weekly schedules I rely on. In some respects, being a planner makes me a good camp director. I have plans and back up plans. I am the epitome of the Scouting motto: Always be prepared.
So what happens when our plans are lost? What happens when our hopes and dreams are dashed against the rocks of life? What happens when we lose all control?
We’re living in that time right now. Our dreams of birthday parties with friends, graduation ceremonies, and wedding celebrations have been cancelled. Our schedules have been thrown out the window. The normal things we count on—toilet paper at the grocery store, heading to school each day, employment—have all been thrown into chaos. Instead of preparing, we are told over and over again: Wait and see.
This loss of control and continuous living in the unknown can cause stress and anxiety. It makes us feel helpless. There are so many things we might do to cope. We start binging shows on Netflix, practicing yoga, eating lots of junk food, growing terse with our housemates and family members.
God has an interesting answer to our cries of helplessness. We are told in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” God looks at our weakness, our brokenness, and our helplessness and invites us to come. We don’t have to have it all together. We don’t have to have a plan. We don’t have to have rid ourselves of anxiety and absolved ourselves of stress. In our helplessness and in our pain, God invites us to come. In fact, in our weakest moments, God’s grace is most powerfully manifested (2 Cor. 12:9). In prayer, we fall before the feet of Jesus, and he gives us rest.
Consider Psalm 23. David writes:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
David’s picture of God as the good shepherd caring for his sheep is an especially pertinent one during this time. When the storms and the waves rise, dashing our hopes, God our Shepherd leads us beside still waters. When we are lost, confused, and directionless, uncertain of the future, God our Shepherd guides us. When we are tired and weary, anxiety and stress tearing away at our hope, God our Shepherd makes us rest in green pastures. When we are broken and disappointed, God our Shepherd restores our souls.
When we are walking in the valley of the shadow of death, we can walk without fear, because we are led by a God that will not let go of us. We have had difficult days, and we will have more difficulty and disappointment to come, but we can walk with confidence and hope. And when our hope fades, we can carry our sorrow and fears to God, knowing that our Shepherd cares deeply for us.
This pandemic has overturned many of the things we count on, but it can also be an invitation from God to come in prayer and thanksgiving. When you are stressed, pray. When you are weary, pray. When you are worried, pray. When you are sad, pray. Give your burdens over to the Shepherd who can carry them for you. Each time you start to feel helpless or worried or anxious (knowing that it’s okay to feel these things) think of it as a personal invitation from God into a moment of prayer. Let the Shepherd restore your soul.
We will be praying for you, camp friends.