Last fall, my brother received an invitation to speak in North Dakota this weekend. If you have ever been to North Dakota in the winter, you know that this is not the time of year that you really want to go there. My brother is a conference speaker and, like many of you, he did not have much work at all last year so we did not want to turn down the first speaking event of 2021. The decision, then, was whether to fly or drive. Typically, if an event is more than a day’s drive, he prefers to fly but not knowing what the weather would be like, he opted to drive, and I planned to go along to run our product table.
Last month, my stepmom asked if I would be willing to help care for my dad during his recovery from neck surgery so that she wouldn’t have to take weeks off of work. This may seem odd to some, but I was blessed that she would ask me. The problem was that I would have to arrive the week that I was scheduled to be in North Dakota, and we really needed the product sales. Believing that God was changing my plans, I knew He would work everything out. I talked to my brother, and we agreed that my nephew could go in my place. He is quite capable and needed drive time anyway so this would work out perfectly. As much as I hated to miss seeing my North Dakota friends, I knew that I needed to be with my dad.
I arrived a week ago and went into a setback of fatigue. Initially, I was frustrated because it was really hard to get up in the morning, and when I did get up, I was just not up to much. I began to see God’s hand even in this. Had I been at a conference this weekend, I would have had to push beyond what my body could have done. Being here has allowed me to serve my dad while still resting as I needed (for the most part). God saw what none of us could have anticipated, and He orchestrated everything perfectly.
I used to have a really hard time when plans would change, and I confess that it can still be a challenge, but the older I get, the more I understand what Solomon meant when he said, “A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). I can make the best plans that seem like the perfect thing but, in the end, I must be open to God redirecting those plans for a path that is better in the long run.
One year ago, I expect we all thought we knew how 2020 was going to go, and yet everyone’s plans were sent into a tailspin. My family had a couple good conferences to kick off the year and then, one by one, we watched our fully planned schedule diminish to nothing. Even in this, God had a plan since my eight-year-old niece developed Lyme Disease that left her incapacitated, and it was helpful to my sister-in-law to have her husband home during that time. After a long eight months or so, my niece began to walk again and, most days, you would not know that she ever struggled with intense pain and the inability to function.
I don’t know what this year will bring. We only have a half dozen conferences scheduled so far, and it’s possible that some of them will still have to cancel. The conferences that do happen may have a much smaller attendance which will result in a lower income than usual. This can result in anxiety, but I choose to trust God regardless of what happens. He has not failed us this far, and I know He won’t in the future.
I don’t know what your plan changes and disappointments have looked like recently, but I encourage you to not become discouraged. Maybe it is not as easy for you to see God’s hand as it is for me, but I don’t doubt for a moment that God is at work nonetheless. Ask Him to fill your heart with peace, and trust that He knows what is best no matter how dark things may look. And if you just cannot get past the fear or despair, please reach out to your spouse or a friend and ask him or her to pray with you or share Scripture with you. You are not alone.