How Disrupted Plans Reveal the Care & Love of God
This article was originally posted on The Joyful Life Blog. Next week is our 2-year anniversary of living in Arizona. It seemed like an opportune time to recount our journey and God’s faithfulness to bring us here.
I was smiling, but inside I was desperately trying to hold it all together. Looking around the room at our goodbye party, I wondered how the Lord would ever give me the strength to say goodbye to these dear friends? One moment I was excited over the opportunities that came with a new chapter, and the next moment I wondered if I’d ever make new friends. Though many didn’t understand our reasons, and I struggled to adequately explain why we felt it was time to go, we were certain the Lord was moving us on. New Mexico had always been my home, and for the first time in my life, I was moving out of state.
We hadn’t made this decision lightly. Uprooting our family from the only home and community they’d ever known had been an agonizing decision. Our daughter was moving to Arizona for college and it seemed like a good time for the whole family to make a much-needed change. With only three years before our next oldest would graduate, we had to seize this window of opportunity.
Our online businesses gave us the freedom to work from anywhere, so it was clear that a job wasn’t the reason behind the move. So, when the inevitable questions came as to why we were moving, I fumbled around and gave lame answers like, “Oh, we just feel it’s time for a change.” Or, “We always threatened to follow Caitlyn to college, now we’re following through.” But behind the polite smile and shallow answers, the truth was much grittier.
Financially it made sense. We had been upside down on our house for over a decade. For the first time in 11 years, we thought we might be in a position to sell. We praised God for all the ways he had provided, but our house felt like a symbol of our financial bondage.
But there was also that other reason we wanted to move. It was the reason I rarely shared when people asked why we were moving when a job didn’t force us to. It was the heartbreak of a broken relationship beyond repair.
Just a year before, our two youngest daughters revealed to us that someone close to us- who held our sacred trust -had done the unthinkable. The heartbreak, the betrayal, and the criminal proceedings that swallowed up our lives for over a year had left us numb. We didn’t want to run away from it. (Ok, sometimes we did.) However, we knew a fresh start in a new place would give our whole family the space we needed to heal.
While all signs seemed to point west, the Lord had some detours planned before we crossed the desert.
The morning after our going away party, the testing began. With only four days until the closing of our house, the buyers canceled the contract on a technicality from the inspection. No amount of negotiations would fix it. In one fell swoop, we were starting over. The most lucrative few weeks of the summer market were behind us, and old fears of not being able to sell our house resurfaced. Then a few days later a second contract was signed – before they backed out too. We were baffled and afraid we had misunderstood God. Was he really moving us, or had we projected what we wanted onto him?
In the weeks that followed, with only marginal interest in our house, we fought for faith. Opening my Bible and journal I begged him to deliver us from our real estate nightmare. I reminded him how he got all our kids in a new school and then lamented all the opportunities he let slip away. I prayed. “Lord, school starts in less than five weeks! How are we going to sell our house, find another one, and move in time? Have we misunderstood your will for our lives?”
That morning, the Lord didn’t reveal a new strategy to sell our house. Instead, he gently reminded me Who was in charge. “The Lord will fight for you and you have only to be silent” (Ex 14:14).
During our waiting, we questioned whether he was redirecting or testing us. While we couldn’t be sure we knew we needed to hear from him. Our human plans could only take us so far, we needed the Lord to fulfill them. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
Corrie ten Boom once said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
Our future was unknown, yet we knew God knew the end from the beginning. He was fighting for us not to lose faith in him. We sought (imperfectly) to wait on him, on purpose.
7 Ways to Wait on Purpose…
1. Lean into God’s Word. I found God’s word fresh with hope and reassurance. This was a sweet time for our family, as we were collectively waiting on God. Each night we shared insights from God’s word or a sermon podcast that had encouraged us that day. Our children were watching Mom and Dad cling to God’s word and each other.
2. Look for roadblocks. Sin impedes our human relationships and our relationship with the Lord. “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18). We had to take a hard look at our motives and deal with any unpleasant truths we found there.
3. Pray and fast. This hadn’t been our normal practice before, but we were desperate to hear from God. We would fast and pray through big decisions. We weren’t trying to twist God’s arm into doing our will, instead, we wanted to align our hearts with his (Matthew 6:16-18).
4. Open hands. Sometimes we strive to attain the thing we want, more than we strive to be the person he wants us to become. This was a time to pray, “Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). We prayed for open hands. We were willing to let go or be redirected.
5. Seek godly counsel. We desperately needed our friends and family to speak the truth and encourage us in our waiting. “Where there is no guidance, a people fall, but in an abundance of counselors, there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). The frequent check-ins of those around us helped us realize we weren’t alone.
6. Give thanks. It’s God’s will that we give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It’s not always easy to thank God for the hard things, but we knew this was producing perseverance in us. We prayed, “Thank you, Lord, for removing buyers and delaying our plans even though we can’t make sense of it right now.”
7. Wait expectantly. After a lot of heart-searching, we felt reassured that we were exactly where he wanted us to be – waiting in expectation for him to deliver. I continued to claim Exodus 14:14: “The Lord will fight for you and you have only to be silent.”
With an uncomfortable three weeks left before school was scheduled to start, and without a contract on our house, we set out in faith to our new city in search of a place to live. After a few days of fruitless searching, a beautiful house -better than any I had seen in months of searching – located within five minutes of our new school popped up on the market. We were the first ones in the door to scope it out. A few hours later, we received a promising offer on our house back home. Within the next twenty-four hours, we were under contract and had found a place to live. After months of waiting, and several failed attempts, everything was falling into place in a way only God could have orchestrated.
We still had to move without a closed contract, which with our history, made us extremely nervous. But two long weeks later, the check finally came. We still look back in amazement at how God used that time to stretch our faith and grow us.
- To trust the Lord as if our very existence depended on it because it did.
- How to discern his voice through his Word because it was our hope and comfort.
- How to cast our anxieties on him and experienced his peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).
- To keep a loose grip on our plans so that we could keep a tighter grip on the one who holds all things together.
While it wasn’t the path we would’ve chosen, it was the best plan because it revealed God’s love and care towards us in ways we wouldn’t have known otherwise. Thank you, God, for disrupted plans.
I love this. This will be something I can look back on to reflect on God’s goodness in that season. I would never trade those few months for anything, God proved himself over and over. So proud of you and the model you set for your family 💛
I agree. What a sweet time it is to think of all the Lord did for us, even when we couldn’t see it at the time. 😘
I hit the like button. (I think)
Such good info here, Cara-really resonates with me becausee I have been in this same position so many times! Not to mention homeless both before leaving for the mission field and returning. Good practical advice to keep our focus on and trust in God! Thank you!
Wow Donna! Those are certainly disrupted plans! I’m thankful this resonated with you and for your testimony of trusting God even when it’s hard. Blessings to you!