O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
At age 20 George Matheson was engaged and going blind. After telling his fiancé of his impending blindness, she decided that she could not marry him. Twenty years later his family left him alone to attend his sister’s wedding. In this moment of grief, he wrote the hymn, “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.” George’s love life did not turn out as he planned.
I have made many plans for exactly the way I want my life to go, but the majority of the time, my plans are not a part of God’s story for me. And that is okay! Here are a few examples:
- CPA vs. FCS
In 4th grade, my parents were deciding if I should attend Christ Presbyterian Academy or Franklin Classical School the following school year. They chose Franklin Classical School.
*Side note: My family and I have been attending Christ Presbyterian Church, which started CPA, for the past 5 years.
- UT Knoxville (Go Vols)
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to attend the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I was SO eager to start at UTK, as a junior I toured the campus, and met with the Chair of the Nutrition Department, students in RUF (Reformed University Fellowship), the RUF campus minister, and students in the sorority I wanted to join.
That was my plan for years, but God’s story is always better.
I ended up not going to UTK, mainly because I did not feel that was where the Lord wanted me. In fact, 4 WEEKS BEFORE classes started, I made that dreaded phone call to admissions, telling that I would not be coming and to please unregister my classes. After that, I enrolled in a 2-year school in my hometown to study dietetics (nutrition).
Also, I repeatedly declared I would NOT attend a small private university, or any university in Nashville. Today I’m preparing to transfer to either Belmont or Lipscomb in the fall. Both are small private universities in Nashville.
- Dietetics? Business?
I started college planning a dietetics major, and promising I would NOT change my major because I WANTED to be that college student who knew what she wanted to do in life and did not change her mind. All along, I knew I wanted to have a career in the business field and incorporate nutrition into this. I realized I loved nutrition and my own health but not as a career. The 2nd week of Fall 2017 semester, I quickly switched to Business Management and Entrepreneurship even though I declared I would not change my major. I prayed and thought about this switch for a while but never did anything. I am confident this is what God wants me to do right now, and I have enjoyed my new classes so far.
This is what I learned about how our will and God’s will cross:
- Rather than gripping tightly in order to control our lives, we must come with open hands and be ready to receive what He has planned.
- God has not forgotten me in the midst of craziness, fear, and doubt. He cares deeply about our desires and thoughts.
- Planning is not a bad thing, and in fact it’s encouraged in the Bible. But God knows that we make our plans with a limited view of the future.
- God usually has something bigger and very different planned than we do.
Rather than saying no to God, I have learned to say, “How can I glorify God in where I am today?” No, that’s not easy, and yes, I still want to say no to God sometimes.
I had coffee with Anna Kate, one of the interns at RUF, a few weeks ago. She told me, “Keep going until God shuts the door.” I remember this so well because she reminded me that God gives us the opportunities He wants us to have at the right time. Sometimes He says yes and opens the door we want. Sometimes He closes the door in order show us His good plans and make us more like Him.
Proverbs 16:9 sums this all up well: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” It is good and right to make plans, but we can know that God has bigger plans than we understand. He is unfolding His plans in ways that benefit us and glorify Him.
Question: How has God changed your plans, and how have you seen His story unfold in your life in better ways?