Plans Have Suddenly Changed, But Don’t Panic
My family and I were happy about our next missions adventure. We had an incredible experience in Brazil, several months earlier, as part of our YWAM Tyler training school outreach. Now we were preparing for ministry in Turkey and Spain. Little did we know a viral storm was brewing that would very suddenly, change our plans.
Enter the COVID-19 crisis.Sudden Change
In a matter of just a few days our plans changed from an exhilarating foreign outreach to an east Texas outreach, then to a YWAM Tyler base quarantine. How could this happen so quickly?
We wanted to go to the nations and now we were confined to a missionary base in east Texas. I believe God is sovereign and has purpose in all things, but I was struggling to see that in our current circumstances.
Few of us just roll with sudden, drastic life changes without some level of anxiety or panic. We desire to find understanding in our new paradigm. But what can we do to help us make sense of sudden change?
How can we find comfort when things are so uncomfortable around us? I was facing questions like these in the midst of my family's situation. I knew where I could go for answers. Through his Word, God wants to answer our questions.
(Heading back to Michigan from East Texas)
Our Plans, His Plans
Our plans were good plans. Few would argue that bringing the love of Jesus to underprivileged people, and to those who need to hear the gospel message in foreign countries is a bad thing. But the sooner we recognize that our plans are subservient to God’s plans, the less likely we’ll be to experience anxiety, panic, and confusion.
One of my family’s favorite verses, that never seemed quite so appropriate as it does now, is Proverbs 16:9⎼“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (NLT)
Can we make good plans and be led by the Lord into those plans? Of course. But can the Lord in his sovereignty direct our steps somewhere other than the direction we plan? Absolutely!
It may not make sense to us in the moment, and may initially create more questions than answers. With the benefit of time and hindsight, however, new perspective can give us clarity about why our plans changed.
Several years ago, my wife and I made an offer on a house that was accepted by the seller. It was much larger than the house in which we lived and seemed to make perfect sense for our large family.
Ultimately the deal fell through for reasons that didn’t make much sense to us at the time, but the perspective that we had a couple of years later helped us make sense of it with crystal clarity. The way the Lord directed our steps was so much better for us than the plans we had made.
Did you ever get yourself stuck to something with Super Glue? Getting unstuck can be quite a chore! Now, imagine that God Almighty, the all-powerful Creator of the universe, has slathered himself with Super Glue and stuck himself to you. You’d have a hard time getting rid of him, right? I think this illustrates precisely how committed he is to us.
Whatever we walk through, he walks through. The Old and New Testaments are packed with verses assuring God’s people that he will never leave them, and always be with them.
From the first chapter in the gospel of Matthew we learn that Jesus is Immanuel, or “God is with us.” Jesus himself declares it at the end of the great commission: “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
Let us also not forget the comfort of the Holy Spirit! In John 14 Jesus promises that the Father will “…provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you.” (MSG) In fact, Paul writes in I Corinthians that the bodies of believers are temples of the Holy Spirit, so he not only always resides with us, but within us. We can all rest assured that even when plans are rapidly changing around us he is not only aware, but he is near us, with us, and within us always.
I have a problem with backpacks. It’s not a fundamental problem with backpacks per se. They can be very useful, functional, and even stylish. The problem I have is that I struggle physically to carry one on my shoulders, particularly heavy backpacks for long periods of time. They cause my upper back, shoulders, and neck to become sore and fatigued. Imagine the relief I feel when someone offers to carry one for me! Guess what? Jesus has offered to carry our backpacks full of whatever we carry around that burdens us.
In Matthew 11, Jesus tells those who feel burdened “Come to me…and I will give you rest..” He replaces our anxiety, panic, and confusion with rest for our souls. That trade sounds like a pretty good deal for us! It is in him, and him alone that we find true rest.
Change happens. Plans don’t always work out. But I think God wants, and probably even expects us, to use volatility as an opportunity to cling tighter to him. So the next time temptation comes to freak out or panic in the midst of changing plans, find rest in him. Learn from Him. He’s our Abba. Our Father. Our Dad. And HE’s good.
Before the Greb's headed out from our camps they put together a series of videos of what life is like doing a DTS as a Family. They answer a ton of questions many have about coming to attend our training schools.