For I know well the plans I have for your future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
We sure spend a lot of time planning. We look forward to trips, events and meetings. I spent some time the other day booking flights and making hotel arrangements for speaking engagements this spring and it all left me wondering what day it was. Jesus is with us right this moment, he meets us right where we are, doing exactly what we’re doing. He doesn’t dwell in our past or wait off in the distant future hoping we make it there to meet him. He invites us to notice him working in our life right here and right now.
It can be easy to get tangled up in the past, reliving could’ve or should’ve moments, and it’s equally easy to get lost in fear and worry about our future. Neither are productive places to go and stay, but as I was so busy glancing into the future, it caused me to pause and ponder the past a bit. I took a look backwards in prayer and I was so sweetly surprised with the things I discovered Christ had done there.
I looked back at “loves” I thought would make my life perfectly complete and in my disappointed tears I didn’t imagine the perfect man God had already chosen for me.
I looked back at jobs I wanted so badly, ones with high pay and great benefits, and while I pouted about missed employment opportunities he already had an amazing job just waiting. One where I am surrounded by the most amazing teachers and staff and oh … the students … I couldn’t even imagine anything so wonderful. I didn’t realize a full heart would trump full pockets so mightily!
I looked back at the losses in my life, the tears and the grief that I thought would choke me to death, and what I see now is the way his tender love and compassion dulled the hurt. The holes left behind by loss were filled with beautiful memories and an ability to reach out with his tender mercy to others who are nursing those same pains.
I looked back and saw three chubby, giggly, drooling babies that grew up too fast. For a moment there was a sad catch in my breath, one that longed to rock and cuddle and swing with those little loves, but then I realized they grew into wonderful young adults and someday there may be grandbabies to rock and cuddle — and return when they get crabby or stinky.
I looked back at a body that was smaller, moved faster, and had less sags and wrinkles and fewer gray hairs. Then I remembered that each sag, wrinkle, and gray hair has a story to tell. I remembered the hundreds of guests of all ages I’ve fed, and the cookies, bread, and cinnamon rolls it gives me such joy to bake and share. I know that love of food and the hospitality it brings to others makes me happier than a smaller number on my clothing tags. Each one of those wrinkles and gray hairs represents a worry I lifted up in prayer, and the laugh lines have been so much fun to earn.
I looked back at disappointments and worries and tragedies and realize God lifted and guided me through every single one and made me stronger, more faithful and more determined to trust him.
I looked back at all the things I wanted, prayed for and knew I simply couldn’t live happily without, and I know now that I received precisely the ones he knew would make my life fit his plan and he withheld the ones that were meant for another.
I looked back at all the friends, family, laughter, weddings, vacations, trips, and events and realize I am so ridiculously thankful for all of it and so amazingly loved by the Father who created me.
Looking backwards for a bit was good for my soul and it gave me a long list of things to thank him for. After a look backwards and a chance to take note of all the wonderful things he’s done through the good and the bad times, I simply have no worries for the future. He’s got an excellent track record — so in the words of Padre Pio; Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry!
A Seed To Plant: Take some time to look backwards and take notice of all the ways God has placed his loving hand upon your shoulders. Be sure to tell him thank you!
Blessings on your day!
Copyright 2018 Sheri Wohlfert