Something that is a habit of mine, and can often get me in trouble, is that I am a planner. I like to plan everything. I am that person that likes to plan out my day, my week, and even my future. But I have learned the hard way that too much planning can cause a lot of stress, especially when what you have planned doesn’t happen. I have learned to just take life as it comes. Of course, I still do some planning, but I have learned that if I, instead, just ask God what I should do, things go so much smoother.
As I read John 6:5-13 NIV, there is so much that comes to mind. Here is the account:
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
So often, we are faced with the question, “Here is our need. How is this going to happen?” It is part of having a “planner” mentality. I not only want to know what is going to happen but how it is going to happen. Wow! Just thinking of it is exhausting!
In the passage above, Philip is questioned, because Jesus wants to hear from him how he believes these people are going to eat. It was a test to reveal how Philip will respond. It is a test of faith. What Philip explains is that it is impossible to feed this many people; they could barely feed themselves. Then, Andrew steps in to say that five small barley loaves and two small fish is all they have. I love what Jesus does. He gave thanks and gave the food to the people. Then what takes place is such an awesome event: they all had enough to eat and even had enough left over to fill twelve baskets. They were left with more than they started with!
It reminds me of God’s faithfulness. When we moved to Pennsylvania, we didn’t have enough money for the move. We barely had half of the “expected” expenses that we thought we needed the day we packed up a moving truck and head out for the six days journey. Also, we didn’t know that once we arrived, a week or so later, we would lose half of our planned income. But God provided.
I have to admit that it didn’t take long for us to realize that Pennsylvania was not our home. I call it a “pit stop” on the way to whatever God was leading us to. Looking back, I can see that it was a necessary part of our journey. After 2 ½ years, we knew that it was time to move on, but we didn’t know where. One thing we were sure of was that Texas was not where God wanted us, at least at that point in our journey. We learned a long time ago that we should be open to all possibilities, even moving back to Texas, but we just knew that Texas was not part of God’s plan. So, we really began to pray and ask God what He had planned for the next step. After what seemed to be a couple short months, the word “Canada” started to pop up in all sorts of places. As a result, I began to ask God why Canada kept popping up during prayer and in other places. Who would have thought that six months after we began to pray for a change, we would be on a airplane headed to Alberta, Canada!
When we moved to Canada —what should have been the hardest move of all —God showed up and made sure we had enough. Interesting enough, when we began the process of planning the move, we weren’t even sure we had enough money for the move much less the money for living expenses once we arrived. The week before leaving, we only had enough money to make the move, pay the hotel and rental car bill, but we knew that God wanted us to go. So, we went forward. Only a day or two before leaving, everything changed. Some money that was unknowingly owed to us was given to us. We were very surprised and even tried to give it back, but the person assured us that this was indeed not a mistake. It was even enough to pay for the remainder of the moving expenses and live without a paycheck for a month. To us that was a very big stamp-of-approval that we were indeed in God’s will. We did not make these moves because we wanted it. It is simply our desire to follow God, because we know that He is good and has never —and I do mean NEVER — let us down. We did these things out of God’s direction for our lives. It was our surrender to God’s love for us.
After much prayer and discussion about making the first move —to Pennsylvania—we just knew that this was the way God wanted us to go. Yes, we could have stayed in Texas, and everything could have turned out okay. God revealed to us that we had a choice to either stay or go, but moving is what was in his plan; if we wanted to follow him, this is what we would need to do. We looked at moving to Canada the same way.
Our family has been in Canada for more than six years now, and we definitely don’t regret it. While life sometimes takes its twists and turns, God is right there with us, comforting us when we don’t understand, guiding us when we aren’t sure what to do, calming us and giving us peace when things seem to be out of control, and even providing for us, and others, when we aren’t sure that there will be enough.
Isn’t that just like God? Just as Jesus tested Philip and Andrew, God makes us aware of our need so we can surrender it to him. When we surrender our needs and give thanks for what he has already provided, the door opens for the provision of that need. If we don’t surrender our needs to God, then we take matters into our own hands. Then, things do not go as well as they could have. We can plan all we want, but God’s plans are always better than our own — something I have learned from experience. As people, we all make mistakes, but it is always good to know that God has a plan. He has a plan to forgive us when we have done wrong, to listen to us when we don’t understand, to teach us the way to make things better, to comfort us when we are hurting, and to provide for us, even when we aren’t sure how things will happen. God, indeed, is a very good, trustworthy, faithful, and very active-in-our-lives kind of god. Thank you, Lord, for all that you are and all that you do!
Go forth and be blessed, my friend.
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