I sat in the dusty Zimbabwean earth, peering up at the nowhere-near-ready church, and fumed. Our construction mission trip had just turned on end.
We’d traveled thousands of miles, spent thousands of dollars more to come this far, and now we were forced to face the hard fact: None of the building materials had been purchased. We had nothing to do but wait.
Anger coursed through me, and frustration. I looked down at my just-purchased work boots and gloves, eyed our unused tool belts stacked in a heap. What a waste!
But our team huddled and prayed, determined to give our work to God anew. And in the waiting came fresh blessings.
Helping the women of the village cook, shop for groceries, draw water from the well, braid hair. Playing soccer and King of the Mountain with a horde of barefoot children. Learning the native language while getting to know the bored men hired on for labor. Shining God’s light in spite of setbacks.
Two days later, we were working again. The plan had changed, and we didn’t leave with the completed frame of the new church as we’d hoped. But we left with friends and a heart for the people and the nation of Zimbabwe we probably never would have formed otherwise.
God’s plan had prevailed, after all.
When we set ourselves to doing God’s work and our plans fall apart, it’s hard to see the big picture. Our pride makes us think our plans are His.The Bible has so many examples of God using the difficult and even catastrophic for good, and then we realize—He was there all along. Click To Tweet
For example, in Genesis, a Hebrew teenager named Joseph is sold into Egyptian slavery by his brothers, a terrible betrayal. Joseph was the son most beloved by his father Jacob, also called Israel, and his brothers hated him for it (Genesis 37:4). But God’s plan was always at work. Not only did Joseph cling to God and rise to Egyptian leadership in spite of his shackles, but he eventually saved both Egypt and his family during a time of severe famine.
When his brothers realized their transgression, they fell down before the brother they had once despised. Joseph wept and responded, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20 ESV).Sometimes, heeding God’s will means letting go of our own plans. Click To Tweet
I imagine Joseph, stripped of everything and cowering at the hands of his brothers, didn’t have any idea the God of the universe had a master plan to make all this good. But he trusted God anyway. Though all of Joseph’s hardships, the Bible tells us, “The Lord was with him” (Genesis 39:3). And after Joseph died, his bones were ultimately carried out of Egypt by Moses, the man God called to liberate His people when they, hundreds of years later, endured their own slavery, and buried in his people’s new home, Israel.
When I look back on my time in Zimbabwe, I don’t much remember the church we helped construct, but I do remember the people—their faces, their dreams, their songs, their laughter. I remember and celebrate our connection as Christian men, women and children united in a common goal.
I’m certain that was God’s plan all along.
Have you ever struggled to accept God’s plan over your own? How did it turn out?
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