“For man does not know his time…” (Ecclesiastes 9:12, ESV).
My 91-year-old retired doctor father has dementia. He is still wonderfully sweet, witty and even wise. He leads a life full of great value to himself and those who love him, but sometimes he can’t find a thought and it frustrates him greatly. Last night after we ate dinner with him, he told me, “You can’t leave until I ask you a question.” I said, “Okay.” Thirty minutes later he was still trying to find that question in his mind. He would stand and pace the room, clench his fists, declare his inability to think, but he could not find that question. His frustration was a kind of suffering that was very difficult for me to watch.
This morning, as I was running, I began to think of next year’s schedule. In addition to my full workload, I had one overseas ministry trip planned, one long vacation with my wife and a few speaking engagements. I also had just been offered the possibility of an additional teaching post overseas for four weeks. Throughout my run, I tried to piece together the impossibility of fitting all these opportunities within my normal occupational schedule. I would think in one direction, and almost figure it out, then lose it. I went down multiple thought paths to dead ends, again and again. I finished my run extremely frustrated. When I walked into my house, I realized that I had been thinking just like my father, trying to find an answer with a mind inadequate to do so.
Each day I ask God to take my plans and work them out in the way that best fits His will. Each day and each year He does so. Yet still I look to my future plans and become frustrated at my inability to sort them out in ways that fit my understanding. Even though my God has never failed to fit my days together, I become anxious and frustrated if I can’t plan it myself.
The truth is, I need not clench my fists in frustration—God’s got this. It may turn out for me comfortable or uncomfortable, simple or complex, but God has always had my days in His hands and will never let my plans fall out of His purpose as long as I trust and obey.
Help me to trust and obey and rest in your plans.