Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. ~Proverbs 19:21
I am a planner. I like to know what is going to happen next week, next month....even next year. I don't know why I'm wired that way, but I am. I like to have a "Plan B" just in case. So I plan and I plan and I plan, and invariably the plans that I've worked so hard to make concrete come caving in around me and I am presented with a totally different, but always better alternative. The truth is, I can have plans in my heart and on my calendar, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. You'd think I'd remember that, especially after God's purpose was made clear to us while we lived in Biloxi.
Seminary is something that Paul and I talked about even before we were married. He had always felt a call, and I had had my own calling to missions years before that. So we knew that eventually we would surrender to full time ministry. Someday. When the time was better. You know, since it was up to us and all.
Paul had visited New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and had an application packet on our kitchen counter for months on end. It was our plan that he commute to New Orleans (about an 80 mile trip) to take part time classes.
Our home sustained a moderate amount of damage in Hurricane Katrina. We were fortunate that our insurance company paid for all of our damages and we were able, with the help of friends and church groups, to get all of our repairs taken care of in a little less than a year. We were very blessed, and by February of 2006 we were sitting in our newly painted home with new hardwood floors, reveling in the news that we were expecting our third child. Ahhh....life was good.
Fast forward to July. The months had flown by, with Paul working long hours at the newspaper, longer than before the storm. Tension in the newsroom between the publisher and the editors was palpable, and it made for one unhappy husband. One Sunday night, Paul was working, I was napping on the sofa, and it was raining outside. The boys were whining about going to church. After all, Tucker said, it starts at 5:00 and it's now 5:20. So I realize I'm being a heathen mother by keeping my boys from church. I get up and we go.....
Our church at the time was doing a group study "On Mission with God" by Henry Blackaby. They had already divided into small groups but my friend Sandra caught my attention and motioned me over to her table. Whew. It was a good table -- Sandra and her husband Chip (our pastor), Ashley (associate pastor) and Jim (our Sunday school teacher). I knew I could sit and relax at this table. After all, I wasn't in the mood to even be there.
I hadn't even positioned my pregnant belly at the table when Ashley looks me square in the eye and says, "So Jenny, how is Paul?" I burst into tears, telling them how miserable he was at work, and how his hours were unbearable and we never saw him, and on and on I blathered. My multi talented writer/editor/columnist husband who had won multiple awards and was even nominated for a Pulitzer was unable to even get an interview, no matter where he sent his resume. We felt defeated. Ashley then looks at me and says, "So where does he stand on getting over to New Orleans?" I told him that the application packet was sitting in the same place it had for months, but I had no control over that --- if he wanted to go he would have to fill it out and send it in. Then he said, in all seriousness, "Your house is all repaired. The market is good. You could sell it for a profit and move on campus." HA! No way was I moving my babies to New Orleans. The city was not a place for families pre-Katrina, now he wanted me to actually consider going post-Katrina? And hadn't he been to my house since we had all our repairs? It was beautiful! I wasn't about to leave it to live in student housing, for goodness sake. Oh, and what about the baby to come? Did he overlook my round belly and forget I was pregnant? What was he thinking?!
And then the Holy Spirit struck. Like a knife to my heart, Ashley said, never taking his eyes off of me, "Oh, so this is all about you..."
Did I mention that our Bible study was Blackaby's "On Mission with God"? About how we are called to join God on His mission. About how it is *so* not about us......but it's all about HIM?
I don't even think I cried. I just knew that I knew that I knew that I knew what we were to do. I went home and phoned Paul at work. I told him we needed to talk. Turns out he was just waiting for confirmation from me that this was indeed what the Lord had planned for our family.
Within the end of the week, we had hand delivered Paul's application to seminary and he had gotten a job at a local Christian school.
We listed our house on Monday morning. The sign went in the yard at 11:00 am. It was shown that evening at 6:00 pm and the family made an offer that very night.
God has a way of working things out His way. His ways are definitely not our ways, I can assure you. I really thought the commuting idea was a winner. Turns out I'd have not only been disobedient, but I'd have robbed my family of a tremendous blessing if we'd have done things my way. God has shown us over and over in the past 14 months that He is Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides...that He is Jehovah Shammah, the God who is right here with us, and that He is the omniscient, almighty, sovereign God.
Fortunately for us, the Lord's purpose prevailed. I am so thankful to have a husband that leads his family obediently and who doesn't listen to his sometimes nagging wife, but prayerfully considers what the Lord's plans and purposes are.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, that no matter what plans I attempt to make on my own, Your purpose prevails. Thank you for Your patience, Your forgiveness, and Your unconditional love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.