What if my life is taking a different path than I had planned?
Prov 16:9; 16:1,8; 19:21; 20:24; 21:30; Ps. 37:23; Jeremiah 10:23; Is 26:7; Ps. 17:5
Many of us live on autopilot. We hope our lives get to a point where things just happen without much effort. You are born, you go to kindergarten, then elementary through to college. You get a job, then marriage, then children, then work and finally retirement. We are all at different stages of life right now.
The question remains, “what if something interrupts your autopilot life, just like it happens when you are driving?” What do you do and how do you respond? Life is full of bumps and decelerations and accelerations at times. There are countless examples in the Bible of God’s people who had their lives altered or plans altered by circumstances even when it looked like things were going well. How do you respond when you hit a bump on the road of life and your autopilot needs to readjusts itself? Plans are funny things. Most of the time, when we make them, we aren’t really the ones who control their outcomes. Sure, we can do our best to try and make them happen, but so much of our world—and our lives—are dictated by things outside of our control. Whether it’s a consequence of something we’ve done or simply circumstances that are out of our control. Suddenly, plans change—and sometimes, they totally disappear.
Changes in our plans or lives can be temporary or permanent? Some changes can be devastating even as Christians; e.g. loss of loved ones; loss of health; unemployment; lack of skill or education to perform a duty; infertility; divorce/relationship problems; loss of hopes and dreams, etc. Do you have a solid foundation? Matt 7:24-25 In these series, i hope we can tackle some of the circumstances that we face in our walk to better understand how to deal with them when they come.
When life happens, what do you do? Some general approach may include:
- Think through your ultimate goal in life: If your roadmap for life is set toward a destination like marriage, children or success in a career, we can be subject to disappointment. The truth is that there no formula or amount of effort that guarantees that you will obtain any of these things. Job 11:7 We should instead set our compass on a source of direction that will remain constant, ie the kingdom of God Matt 6:33. Continue to seek God and leave the consequences to God.
- Recognize that taking alternate paths in life does not mean you have settled for whatever comes. When things don’t go as planned, we find ourselves in the middle of disappointment. This is because any option outside of what we originally hoped for can seem second rate to our initial desire. We need to stop viewing all other paths as inferior. We cannot predict the future and you can never know where life will lead you. God’s plan can sometimes defy all logic. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”
- Stop comparing yourself with others: Every day, social media bombards us with announcements about engagements, weddings, babies, travel plans, achievements etc. We hear about our friends who have received promotions, who are building new homes or getting new cars etc. We see all these great things in other people’s lives and we think we made a mistake. Comparison and jealousy are meaningless in the light of eternity. God gives each one their unique blessings and gifting – so leave them alone.
- Allow each season of your life to shape you. When you are in the in-between place and things are not progressing as expected, remember that there is a purpose and value in the season of waiting. James 1:3. Each delay or re-direction in your life can work to mold your character – if you let it. However, the choice is yours in whether you will take advantage of the opportunity or give in to impatience.
- Practice being mindful of the present with gratefulness. We can purposefully be thankful for the things currently happening in our lives. Part of discovering the life we hope for in the future begins with thankfulness for the life we have been given in the present.
Summary: 1. Man proposes. He has a freedom of thought and a freedom of will permitted him; let him form his projects, and lay his schemes, as he thinks best: but, after all, 1. God disposes. Man cannot go on with his business without the assistance and blessing of God, who made man’s mouth and teaches us what we shall say. God easily can, and often does, cross men’s purposes, and break their measures. It was a curse that was prepared in Balaam’s heart, but the answer of the tongue was a blessing.