It is so easy to have good ideas, but sometimes those “good” ideas turn out to be complete disasters. When I was about three or four, I had the sudden idea to make a scrumptious dessert from scratch. I could see the perfectly baked finished product in my head, and I begged my mom to do it. She was all for it, and she pulled out the box mix for Jiffy corn muffins. “Um, no Mom. That is not the plan.” So we pulled out all the ingredients. I measured, and I mixed, and I made an absolute mess of the kitchen. Then, I poured the concoction into little muffin tins and even added a Dots candy on top of each one. I put them in the oven. 30 minutes later, I was ready to see my dream made into reality. But when I opened the oven, it was a soppy mess. I couldn’t even see the Dots anymore. I was so disappointed. Maybe the Jiffy corn muffins weren’t such a bad idea after all…
Even if my plans result in absolute failure, I more often than not choose my own plans over letting anybody else have control over my life. And every single time, my plans look like a wet mix of half-baked ingredients with a Dots candy somewhere in the middle. I have stayed in unhealthy friendships, even though God gave me opportunities to walk away. I have insisted on having perfect scores in school, even though God never asked me to do that. I have pushed to have things done my way, to the point of physical pain, emotional breakdowns, and damaging relationships. I have never found peace nor contentment walking down my own path. God’s plan has been and will always be better than mine. All the times in which God’s purpose triumphed in my life are the best parts of my life. I never wanted to go to Texas Tech because it was where everyone else wanted me to go. Now, I cannot imagine going to a better school. Back in junior high, I wanted to play a small instrument after watching my brother lug around percussion equipment. God had a different plan, which involved me carrying the bazooka of band instruments: the bassoon. God had it right; it always felt like my body was meant to play the bassoon. Before high school, I wanted to play soccer or basketball, sports where I had experience. Instead, because of a few concussions during junior high, God had me play tennis. Those four years playing a new sport did not make any sense to me at the beginning, but now I would never trade those experiences for anything.
Tennis also gave me the ability to connect with a doctor during my medical school interview. We discussed our favorite parts about tennis for a quarter of our time together, giving life to my application. I never could have imagined so long ago that God had every detail of the plan mapped out. I had spent my whole academic career preparing for that day by studying long hours, volunteering, and participating in extracurricular activities. Then God showed me that he had orchestrated things outside of my control that possibly made the difference between acceptance or rejection into medical school. He put the right interviewer for me in the right place at the right time.
Through these experiences, I have learned that I can choose to go down his path, which he has proven time and time again is good, or I can hold onto my own plans. But without him, I am unhappy, selfish, and alone. So how do I give up my plans in exchange for his? The answer is in Jeremiah 29:12-13, where God says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
First of all, God has promised us that he has a purpose for us. God knows every detail of his plan, and it is a good plan, because he says in Romans 8:28 that “we know all things work together for the good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.” I also know that God’s purpose, because it is good, should only bring me peace. As someone who loves to chase after her own ideas, I have to slow down and look for that peace in every decision. If there is any anxiety, fear, or doubt, I am in my own plan.
So if I don’t have that peace, how do I give up my plan and embrace God’s purpose? That is what the second part of the Scripture in Jeremiah tells us. God tells us to call upon him, to pray to him, to seek him, and the search for him with all of our hearts. Then, he will answer. Every time I am following my own plan, I have to pray and ask God to take that plan away from me and put his plan in that void. Then, I trust that he will reveal the next step in his plan. Doing that is very hard. I have cried in the process of giving up my plans. But I know that God is good, and every day I have to make the choice to trust in his plan, whether or not I see the outcome.
Once my plans are gone, life gets a lot easier. There is no stress and anxiety following the recipe on the side of the Jiffy corn muffin box. Every day, all I have to do is follow God’s recipe, which involves listening to God’s Word and trusting in his purpose. And when it is God’s recipe, it works out exactly the way he intended to do it, which is always good.
— Written by Erin