When you live in a house with four women, of varying ages, you can never simply “pile in the car” and go anywhere. Hair needs to be straightened, curled, etc. just to go to the grocery store. Makeup needs to be applied in just the right layers and shades to get a Happy Meal at McDonalds. Diaper bags have to be fixed. Binky? Check. Extra binky? Check. The just-in-case-we-lost-the-first-two binkies binky? Double check. Every other weekend, when there are six women in the house, you can just hang it up. You’re not going anywhere on time. The point to the imagery here is this: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” -Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
I’ve been trying to connect with a message for most of the morning. With all the trials of the past week or so, I wanted to take a break from the doldrums and doom and gloom (I’ve burdened you enough with stories of my trials and tribulations). As I look back on everything my family and I have been through this past year, and how we have come through it all, however, I feel led to continue on that track a bit longer. Only this time, I feel as though I can apply these glitches to a relationship-builder…there is only ONE perfect plan that is ALWAYS on time.
As I was thumbing through my bible, I was meditating on planning. Specifically, how most of the plans that Lena and I had for this year fell through. Not only did they fall through, but they usually ended with a screeching halt followed by us hitting a concrete wall like a couple of crash test dummies. I’m going to summarize here (because I intend to write a year-in-review post towards the New Years holiday) some of the things that we, as a family, encountered. Makayla almost had to have her gall bladder removed…at 13 years of age. I changed jobs midway through the year. The hours from my part-time job decreased, thereby decreasing our income. Lena started a new job. We welcomed a new daughter to the family. During the pregnancy, Lena had neurological episodes (blacking out with seizure-like activity) that netted us five trips to the hospital and lost time for her at work…thereby decreasing our income. And last but not least, I began working nights while Lena worked during the day…thereby decreasing the amount of time we got to spend together to virtually nothing. She even quipped one day that she felt like a single mom again. This wasn’t how we “planned” for things to go.
Quite a laundry list, huh? The awesome part to all of this, however, is we’ve come through each and every episode with God’s grace and a greater appreciation of Him. Roni still has her gall bladder. Lena’s colleagues and boss are like family to us (an unbelievable blessing ). Losing time on my other job enabled me to be there for Lena’s episodes to take here to the hospital. That lost time has also enabled me to be home more, reaffirming the relationship I have with my wife. Mia was amazingly healthy through all of mom’s troubles and was born a perfect gift from God. And in spite of worrying about buying Christmas presents for the kids this year, because of that same lost time, we’ve managed to hold onto our house and get a few things for the rug rats to put under the tree. Here I have to thank the Fitzgerald Family Eye Care family, Mama Jan and my mother-in-law, her husband and their church family. He knows what you have all done to bless our family, and I can’t wait to be a blessing to all of you in turn.
Okay…so it was a little bit more than a summary. I guess that’s just how God wanted me to lay it out there for you. Now back to the Bible. I wasn’t really finding a verse that I clicked with until just prior to writing this post. I looked at several related to planning in the concordance, but nothing seemed to give me peace. Then I opened the Good Book to the bookmarked page. It was last week’s verse from Matthew. At first, I didn’t realize that. Then, after looking at the various teachings from God, a verse on the opposite page from last week’s grabbed me. In it, God teaches us a lesson about worry.
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life- whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
So don’t worry about these things, saying, “What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”- Matthew 6: 25-34
I’ve written before about worry in Worship More, Worry Less, but the verse about worry isn’t what caught my eye. It was the study guide that showed me I was where I needed to be.
“Because of the ill effects of worry, Jesus tells us not to worry about those needs that God promises to supply. Worry may 1) damage your health, 2) disrupt your productivity, 3) negatively affect the way you treat others, and 4) reduce your ability to trust in God. How many ill effects of worry are you experiencing? Here is the difference between worry and genuine concern- worry immobilizes, but concern moves you to action.”
Planning for tomorrow is time well spent; worrying about tomorrow is time wasted. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference. Careful planning is thinking ahead about goals, steps and schedules, and trusting in God’s guidance. When done well, planning can help alleviate worry. Worriers, by contrast, are consumed by fear and find it difficult to trust God. They let their plans interfere with their relationship with God. Don’t let worries about tomorrow affect your relationship with God today.”
When you and your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc. pray and focus on finding the one right plan for your lives…God’s plan, worry becomes a non-issue. And when worry is a non-issue, you’re free to follow that plan and experience the full blessings of the Lord. Thank you, Father, for helping me to not worry as much as my wife did through all of the trials of this year. By not doing so, I was able to be the rock for her and steer our ship through troubled waters. I’m awestruck by Your plans for us!