The Things We Planned
A couple years ago, the largest fire in California history ignited, causing my family to leave town for several weeks to escape the intolerable smoke. Others suffered much more significantly - losing homes, businesses, and even loved ones - but all of us can say in agreement, this was not what we’d been planning on. I’m sure you know the feeling.
Sometimes our plans go up in flames. Sometimes good plans backfire. In fact, this is a pattern I’m quite familiar with: old plan - flames (rejection, closed doors, road blocks, mistakes, etc.) - new plan. Can you relate?
A glance at Moses’s life gives us significant insight into this universal concept of life not going according to plan. His first plan to ensure justice for the Hebrews by killing an Egyptian completely backfired, and he had to flee Egypt to avoid being killed himself (See Ex. 2).
40 years of peace in Midian go by. Moses is minding his own business, content to tend his father-in-law’s flock of sheep for the rest of his life, when a burning bush appears - literal flames that reveal a new and different plan for him.
Let’s take a look at three things we can learn through Moses and the burning bush, and then apply to our own lives.
When our plans go up in flames:
1. God is getting our attention:
“So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight - why the bush does not burn up” (Ex. 3:3).
Nothing reminds me I cannot achieve success on my own quite like a failed plan. It snaps me out of the harmful mindset that I’ve hit my stride and I’m finally getting the hang of this thing called life. A failed plan turns our attention from “I’ve got this” to “God, I need you,” and in the end, we’ll achieve far more for God when we remain dependent on Him.
2. God is calling us:
“…God called to him from within the bush” (Ex. 3:4)
When our plans go up in flames, God is inviting us to draw near to him and the invitation is a personal one. He called Moses by name and he uses these moments to call us by name as well. He knows you, he loves you, and he has good and specific plans for you.
3. God is revealing Himself, his plans, and his promises to us:
“I am the God of your father (3:5), “I AM WHO I AM” (3:14).
“I am concerned about their suffering…So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Ex. 3: 7,10).
“And God said, ‘I will be with you’” (Ex. 3:12), “I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt” (v. 17).
When our plans fail, it’s a perfect time to reflect upon the promises and character of God: He is trustworthy, faithful, loving, our provider… He promises to never leave us alone, to walk through trials with us, to use even our failures for our good…just to name a few.
How should we respond?
1. Examine the Goal
Moses’ goal to bring justice to the Hebrews was God’s goal. But the first method Moses used to achieve it was not God’s method of choice. When our plans go up in flames, we need to examine our overall goal. Is it in line with God’s goal? If it’s not, ditch it. If it is, then persevere. Same goal, new plan… God’s plan.
2. Trust God
Trust him to come up with a new plan and to equip you for it. Trust him to calm your insecurities, cover your inadequacies, and compensate for your insufficiencies. Trust him to achieve the goal through you if that’s what he has promised.
Questions to consider:
What is your natural response when life doesn’t go according to plan? What would you like it to be?
Ponder a time when your plans went up in flames. What did God teach you through that?
Verses for reflection:
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. -Psalm 143:8
Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established. - Proverbs 16:3