MONDAYS WITH KERRI
Several years ago, I had a plan–a wonderful plan–to get away for several days of solitude and writing. I got up early that morning and packed the car excitedly. My dear friends had generously offered me their vacation home for the week and I was eager to arrive early. I checked the weather conditions for my route and found a snow storm was brewing near the summit of the mountain pass I was to travel. I paused. Should I wait until later in the week to make the drive? I quickly brushed off the hesitant thoughts and started off on my adventure. I headed east out of town and as I did, I noticed that it was one of those mornings when every slow driver in the city had decided to emerge onto the rain slick roads. To add to my frustration, I seemed to hit every single red light heading out of the city. “I should have waited until after rush hour,” I mused. I was in a hurry to get to solitude. I laughed as I caught the irony of my mental state and decided to turn on some worship music to help my mood. Soon enough I was out of the city and into my three and a half hour trek up and over the mountain pass.
As I ascended, I noticed a sign announcing that snow tires or chains were mandatory ahead. Surely, I’ll be okay, I thought. It is early in the day and the season; I’ll get through. However, when I reached the summit, several large electronic signs flashed the same warning for drivers. It was clear that attempting to proceed down the mountain was a very bad idea. Still, I wasn’t convinced that I couldn’t make it. Maybe they forgot to turn off the signs from the night before, I thought; so I decided to keep going. As soon as I made my decision, I noticed that all of the vehicles headed east in the same direction had pulled off to the shoulder to chain up. Seeing this made me second guess myself, so I turned my car around and pulled into a gas station. There I asked three different men about their travels. Which direction had they come from? Did they have any trouble making it to the summit? And most importantly, what was their advice to me? I was somewhat encouraged by their varied feedback, so I decided to forge on.
But when I got back to the exact same spot I had doubted myself earlier, I once again pulled the car off the road. Should I wait here at the summit until the snow melts this afternoon? I wondered. Once again, I asked drivers coming from the East about the road conditions ahead and attempted to solicit their opinions as to what I should do. This happened three times. Three times I tried to continue down the mountain and three times I stopped, turned around and asked the advice of other drivers before deciding to head back down the mountain the way I came. Traveling home I was angry and frustrated. “I just wasted a whole day,” I fumed out loud. Then it struck me; I had just lived out the perfect illustration of this life.
We make a plan, we prepare for our plan, and we gather the necessary supplies as we map out our desired route. We estimate how long our plan should take and make goals to accomplish by the time we reach our destination. But then life happens and often our plans don’t materialize. When they don’t, we get frustrated and angry. We feel we have wasted time and that nothing was accomplished. Instead of waiting and listening for the Father’s voice, we push harder to make our goals come to fruition. Often, we seek out the advice and counsel of others instead of heeding the voice of the Holy Spirit. We are stubborn and willful, and we want our way. We want our plan to work. But if we choose to surrender our will to His, we learn to wait on His presence in tangible ways.
My goal was to get away for a time of solitude so that I could hear from God and write what I received from Him. However, I was so distracted by trying to get to the vacation house and “accomplish” time with Him that I missed His presence on the way there. If I had remembered that His presence was my ultimate goal, I probably would not have been so upset at the traffic lights and ice-covered roads. If I had remembered that He was in the car with me in the same way He would meet me at my destination, my perspective would have been different. I would have been in a posture of waiting on Him, watching for His signs, listening for His voice, and enjoying my relationship with Him so much that turning the car around would not have ruined my day.
That day serves as a reminder to me that when our plans change we have not failed. In a plan of His own God thwarts ours and we are given an opportunity to remember that His presence, wherever we may be, is the only destination worth planning and pursuing. Distractions from His presence are all around us. Good things and good people will attempt to steal our attention and steer us in one direction or another. He is clearly marking the road if we listen. He is telling us where to drive, when to turn around and when to wait. Only when His presence is the blessing we are striving for, will we avoid the frustration of another wasted day.
Have you made plans and set goals only to see them go unfulfilled? Do you find yourself frustrated and angry wondering what is God up to? Are you pushing hard to make your plans come to fruition when God may have another plan?