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My ‘no plan’ challenge

My ‘no plan’ challenge
Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS

By Jessica Brodie

I have a confession: I’ve been both frustrated and liberated these last few months by the inability to plan—well, pretty much anything.

By nature, I’m a planner. I keep multiple calendars, including six categories of calendars on my iPhone, a hard copy calendar on my desk and another on my fridge. This doesn’t include the daily to-do list by my side. It probably sounds completely obnoxious to some of you, I’m sure, but I’m a busy woman and a working mom. For me, it’s how I do life.

Yet as a Christian I’m well aware my craving for a plan is all too often an exercise in futility. We humans mistakenly believe we are “in control” and that planning can put the chaos of life into a neat little box. That is an illusion, for only God is in control. I know this intellectually. Still, my mind often conveniently forgets this, especially in times of stress when I crave a plan, order, structure, routine.

It’s as if the plan, not God, reigns supreme.

At the beginning of the year, I had a grasp of how this year would probably go—a hot mess of travel between General Conference, Annual Conference, Jurisdictional Conference and a host of family commitments. When the pandemic hit and all those things were forcibly paused, I’ll admit I was a bit relieved. For the first time in what felt like eons, I had unexpected free time. It was both freeing and frighteningly chaotic.

As a planner, it was good for me. I soon trained my brain and my heart to let go of the nonessentials, to let each day dictate what was to come courtesy of God, not Jessica.

When life started getting more normalized and our state began to reopen, that familiar go-go-go began to rise up again inside of me. I found myself impatient again, wondering “exactly when” we’d do this or that.

How quickly I started to forget the most important lesson the pandemic taught me: Let go of the steering wheel and let God be the driver.

God created us to lean on Him and be in a dependent relationship with Him. I struggle to remember this on a daily basis. But Scripture assures me that God is the one in control, not me. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus reminds us, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34 NIV). And, as He says in Luke 9:23-24, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”

Faith is about surrendering control, about understanding that control is an illusion. The only plan that matters is God’s plan.

And God sees how this year, this decade, this century will play out with a perspective only God has. I cannot possibly understand all that His plan entails, or even why. All I can do is my part to bring myself into alignment with His plan and work to serve Him and spread His holy truth. All I can do is walk on the path God has laid out for me, and bring myself back on that pathway if ever I walk astray.

One day, maybe life will go back to the kind of existence I feel I can manage with multiple calendars, to-do lists, life goals and more. But right now, God is showing me a new challenge—what I call a “no plan” challenge. And it’s good for my soul.  How about you?

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