My sister’s birthday was right around the corner and I was so excited! She was going to spend her special celebration with me in Bend, Oregon and we had plans.
There were garden shops in Eugene to visit. Farmers markets to explore and a few favorite restaurants, coffee shops, and bookstores to meander through. It was going to be a special time together, talking, catching up, and growing closer.
I recognize family visits can fall into two categories. You are either very happy they are coming or you can’t wait until they leave. My sister’s visit falls into the first category, I can’t wait to see her and when we have to leave each other it is a tear-filled departure.
You have to understand a little of our background to understand why our visits are so special. My sister is 12 years older than me and she married at 17. For the next three years, I saw her intermittently but after that, she was estranged from our family. She came back into my life when I was a young woman and we’ve worked hard since that reunion to make up for missed years, missed holidays, missed special sister times.
We had plans but God’s plans were different than ours.
Two weeks before my sister’s visit, I had emergency surgery that would require me to take it easy for the next few weeks. It would require us to change our best-made plans and shift our time together doing less and sharing the gift of together more.
There was a puzzle to be completed (1000 pieces that are still sitting in my living room partially completed), stories to share, brief walks to master, and tea – yummy Chai lattes.
God’s plan was for us to spend real quality time in the presence of each other. Not distracted by the busyness of constant movement – I am definitely a constant movement girl, so trust me we would have been on the move.
God’s plan was so much better than ours.
We were able to continue to build our relationship, discover new similarities and laugh about our differences, and understand that the best part of our visit is sitting with a cup of tea and holding each word shared as a gift – the miles between us can never take those gifts away.
Alice Walker shares:
Is solace anywhere more comforting than in the arms of a sister.
This was so true of my sister’s visit. She encouraged, scolded when needed, and supported me – such a blessing and one that would have been completely missed if God’s plan had not been fulfilled.
In the book of Genesis, chapter 16, there is a fascinating story of a woman with a plan. Her name was Sarai. She was desperate because she and her husband Abram were childless. (Note: Sarai and Abram’s names were changed later in the book of Genesis, Genesis 17:5 and 17:15, to Abraham and Sarah.) They had waited for years to have a child with no success.
I’m certain Sarai struggled, questioned God, and envied the other women in her community. When desperation was too much to bear any longer, Sarai formed a plan. She encouraged Abram to have a child by her Egyptian slave Hagar. This plan on the surface would address their immediate problem but there were consequences that were not being considered. Unfortunately, Abram agreed to Sarai’s plan and Hagar became pregnant. But this is where the story gets interesting. Once Hagar was pregnant, the Bible tells us in Genesis 16:4 – 5
…When she (Hagar) knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.’
Wow, do you see what happened? Sarai devises this plan to address her childlessness and ends up in strife with her slave and her husband!
The best-made plans often do not come out the way we’ve planned. This is especially true when we fail to consult God about His will, ask for His guidance, and wait on His direction.
I am learning to wait on God, trust His plans for my life, and slow down long enough to hear Him. But this is increasingly hard when God’s plan allows struggles, illness, bareness, and challenges. What are we to do in the midst of all the pain?
I want to encourage you to hold on to the constants that cannot/will not move –
- You are God’s BeLoved!
- He will never forsake you or leave you.
- God remains in control.
Go ahead and make your plans but don’t forget to consult God and when He has a different plan, know that it will mature you, grow you, transform you, and deepen your relationship with Him in ways you would never expect.
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