Tag Archives: plans

Facing Failure

We are leaving for New Zealand in a week. Part of my preparation has been to think about which clothes to take and whether anything needs replacing. I bought a green jacket at the beginning of winter which was very convenient when we went camping as it has pockets and a hood and is shower-proof. It has never looked smart, however. It just didn’t hang right. I decided to look at it carefully and see why. It seemed that the lining had shrunk or was never the right size for the outer shell. Surely if I separated the lining from the shell and just neatened it off, it would improve the hang? Maybe I used the wrong material to edge off the lining but, suffice it to say, I gave away the jacket and bought another one.

On Tuesday afternoon my daughter came to show me how my granddaughter’s ballet character skirt had become too loose for her. She needed it fixed for her ballet exam. Safety pins in the waistband would not cut it. She asked if I could fix it by Thursday, which was the last practice. It seemed a simple job – unpick the elasticised waist band and put in new elastic. Easy! I even found a suitable piece of elastic in my sewing box.

Image adapted from Image by Fiona from Pixabay

After twenty five minutes of trying to unpick black thread from black fabric and making only 1cm progress on one of three rows of stitching on the elasticised band, I came up with another plan – cut off the waist band and make another one. It was after 9.30pm before I could get hold of my daughter to OK the plan (especially as the fabric I had was not a perfect match colourwise.)

The Bible says, “The heart of man plans his way; but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16: 9)

My plan started well but by Wednesday night, once I had finished sewing the three rows to keep the elastic from twisting, the stretch no longer seemed enough. Maybe it was old elastic I had found.

Suddenly, on my worktable, was not only the new band I had made, but also another one which was much stretchier. I couldn’t understand it. The one I had cut off the skirt was in the dustbin, and yet here was just exactly what I needed. And the material was a perfect match. I had prayed about this project that the Lord would help me make a success of it. Surely this was His provision! We were looking after the grandchildren on Wednesday night so it was easy to get my granddaughter to try on the new waistband. It was quite a bit too tight but if I attached a piece from the one in the dustbin it could work.

It was in attaching the skirt to the waistband that the wheels really came off. You know it’s time for bed when you have sewed the entire waistband and a big chunk of fabric hangs down, un-incorporated.

By Thursday morning I was a soggy mess of stress. I had managed to unpick a lot of the stitching but not all. I couldn’t stop crying. My husband tried to cheer me up by saying that we could buy a new skirt if necessary. That didn’t help because it would be another failure. I had undertaken to do something and I had failed.

I knew the Lord had brought this upon me for a purpose. The extra waistband had apparently been from when my older granddaughter had had a similar issue with her character skirt just before an exam, only hers had been too tight and I had cut it off and made another one. Only I had forgotten. And exactly how it had landed on my work table I still don’t know. God’s handiwork was obvious. Surely He isn’t trying to tell me that there is a time to give up!

After a lot of thought, I think He wants me to learn to cope with failure. Looking back on my life, I have not failed often. Perhaps I have become too proud and independent. I have prided myself on being able to deliver on my promises, on being capable.

I had so wanted to be Super Granny!

My Prayer

Lord, I am not quite sure what You are doing with me at the moment and I don’t like it. Forgive me for relying on my own gifts and talents rather than on You. If You are teaching me something, may I learn quickly so I may be at peace. Amen.

The Diary

My husband, who was born in the first half of the last century, still uses a diary for his time management. It is fairly easy to buy him a Christmas present. If he hasn’t bought himself one by Christmas, I can’t go wrong with a hard-backed, page-a day diary for the next year.

If an event is not yet finalised, my husband will pencil it in, either to be inked in later, or rubbed out.

Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

When we pray together in the morning, we’ve recently been getting into the habit of specifically confirming to the Lord His right to change our plans and our agenda if He wishes. It is like the plans we make, and there are many, are only penciled into our diary awaiting His final confirmation. This helps us cope when unexpected things crop up and when things don’t quite work out according to our plan.

Currently we are planning to fly to Gqeberha on Tuesday to spend time with my mother and other members of both our families.

James says, “Come now, you who say ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”(James 4:13-15 ESV)

So our plans have only been penciled in. If the Lord wills, we will fly to Gqeberha on Tuesday.

My Prayer

Father, I don’t know the future. You do. I know Your plans toward me are good so I can trust my future and my plans to You. Amen.

Love Makes Time

When I ran a Girl Guide Company, I frequently organised Guide camps. Although I had an assistant Guider and often a parent to help, I was basically in charge and knew where everything was and what was next. I was constantly bombarded by girls wanting something. My Guide name was Panda.

“Panda, where is the toilet paper for the bathrooms? We’re on health patrol.”

“Panda, I’ve cut my finger,”

“Panda, is it time to start lunch yet?

“Panda, the flag pole is falling down.”

If you’ve ever organised something or been in charge of something, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

That’s exactly how Jesus felt in Luke 8:40. “Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him for they were all waiting for him.” (ESV) They were waiting for Him to teach them, to minister to them, to heal them. They needed His time and attention. Then came Jairus. Jairus begged Jesus to come to his house because his daughter was dying. Jesus left the crowd and made time for the one. “As Jesus went, the people pressed around him.“(v 42b)

Even while He was going on His mission of mercy, Jesus was interrupted. A woman who had suffered from bleeding for twelve years touched the hem of his garment so she could be healed. Jesus stopped and took time to meet, talk to and reassure the woman who was healed. Even though He was on a mission involving a leading public figure, Jesus made time for the one.

Love makes time. Throughout His ministry, Jesus made time for people around Him – eating a meal, going to the house of Zacchaeus, or interacting with little children. Jesus was there for those around Him.

As we seek to grow more like Christ, we need to choose to make time for those in need even if it doesn’t fit into our schedules. If we have surrendered our lives to Him, we have also surrendered our time and we are no longer boss of our own time.

Image by Pixabay

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, I remember that You are Lord of my time. I know that You have the right to change my schedule without notifying me. May I always be alert to Your still small voice and be prepared to change my plans and priorities at Your prompting. Amen.

The Deflation of Disappointment

On Saturday morning I got up at 3.30am. I had been invited to take my daughter’s place on a hot air balloon adventure. The flight, which had been a service award to my son-in-law, had been scheduled for some time ago but had been called off when the party was already in the basket, due to wind issues.

I had been conflicted by the invitation and had taken almost an hour to accept it. I have a mild fear of heights but I have managed to force myself to look out of an aeroplane window once or twice. I have always had an issue with standing for long periods. In church I usually stand for the first worship song then sit for the rest. It’s easier now that I’m almost seventy. People expect old ladies to have some difficulty. My third issue was the easiest to overcome. I am not a morning person. For a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I was prepared to overcome my issues with the Lord’s help. In the back of my mind all this time was the knowledge that again the flight could be postponed. (The weather forecast had predicted a 40% chance of thunderstorms.)

We assembled on the launch site and photographed semi-inflated balloons.

The balloons are much bigger than I thought.

We stood around waiting for our crafts to be ready. I lay down my jacket on a grassy edge and sat on it. No use standing unnecessarily I would need all the stamina I could get.

I knew at once when the decision was made. There was a sudden silence as all the fans were switched off. There is nothing as sad-looking as a deflating hot air balloon.

Turns out the visibility was the issue this time; and the fact that there were electrical storms in the vicinity.

My disappointment was tinged with relief. Now there would be no need for a burst of courage and by the time the rescheduled flight takes place, my daughter will have recovered from Covid.

Consolation prize was spotting a baby giraffe.

James says, “Come now, you who say ,’Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15 ESV)

That is not to say we should not plan. I had to plan to get up early, to wear comfortable clothes, to take a camera. It means we should not cling too tightly to our own plans but allow the Lord to change our schedule without consulting us. I could cope with the disappointment of losing my once-in-a-lifetime experience because I had known from the start that cancellation was a high possibility. May I approach all my plans in that light and trust the Lord with the outcome.

My Prayer

Father God, thank you that you have given us opportunities for excitement, be it meeting up with family after a long break, a holiday, a leisure trip or a new opportunity to serve You. Please help me to make plans but hold them loosely, giving You the freedom to change them according to Your will. Amen.

Plans and Agendas

We had a very good sermon (virtually) this morning, called the Peril of Presumption. In it, Pastor Richard talked about the danger of thinking that we are in control of our plans and agendas without acknowledging God’s sovereignty and that, as Christians, we have invited Christ to take control of our lives – meaning we are no longer in control.

Pastor Richard told us about a prayer Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision, had prayed, giving God permission to change his agenda without informing him.

That really struck home. Who is in charge here, after all? I might have planned to go to the vegetable shop and the cheese shop. God’s agenda for me might be to listen to a friend who is having a hard time.

A friend told me of the occasions he had allowed his children to bunk school.

In our part of the world, snow hardly ever falls. When my friend heard it was snowing in the Drakensburg, some five hours away, he woke the children early, bundled them into the car and drove to the Drakensburg to show them snow. They climbed over a farm fence and slid down snowy slopes on tea trays they had brought. The children missed their lessons but learned more than a hundred lessons could teach them.

Photo from Pixabay by Alain Audet

On another occasion he whisked them away to watch a solar eclipse which could be seen nearly 600km away.

Our Heavenly Father would like to disrupt our planned activities in the same way, for reasons of His own. Reasons that include our eventual good, our growth or His plans for somebody else. And He’s under no obligation to tell us what His reason is.

James says 13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  (James 4:13-14)

My Prayer

Sovereign Lord, may I never lose sight of Your claim on my life, my time and my agenda. Please open my eyes to Your leading and Your will for my time. Amen.

This post is part of JusJoJan.