Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Patience (08/21/08)
TITLE: God's Plan vs. My Plan
By Sarah Heywood
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I have a number of virtues, I like to think, but even I have to admit that patience is not at the forefront. I am the person who stands in front of the microwave, irritated that it is taking two minutes and twenty seconds to pop my popcorn. And I’m old enough that I can remember when popcorn used to have to be made on the stovetop and took a whole lot longer! You would think I’d be grateful it only takes a couple of minutes now! I completely handed off the job of teaching our boys to tie their shoes to my husband because I just did not have the patience to sit down and teach them over and under and around the loop or however that goes. And please don’t ask me about my driving! I probably shouldn’t mention that one my boys’ first words was “moron” after an especially rough trip to town…
But you know how God is. He sees those rough spots in our lives and wants to sand them down. He saw this great big ugly part of me called Impatience, and thought, “I’ll teach her!” I like to think of Him cackling as he said this, but I’m not so sure God cackles. He might have possibly chuckled, though.
I wanted lots of babies and, fortunately for me, my husband thought that was a good idea, too. So within the first six years of our marriage we produced three children. And I wanted another! I never thought to consult God’s opinion on planning our family. I look back on that and my arrogance makes me shudder. I just assumed that all would go according to my plan. When the time came to produce the next baby we found ourselves surprised when it didn’t happen right away. We finally did conceive but that ended almost before it began in an early miscarriage. It was a setback, but I was determined that we would have that fourth child. I had a plan, after all! Nothing happened. Soon, I found myself immersed in charts and trying all sorts of diets, attempting to make my body a viable receptacle for new life. We prayed. Nothing happened. I went to the doctor and was told “Be patient!” Apparently, she didn’t know to whom she was speaking! We even began some early fertility intervention treatments and still there was no baby. We toyed with the idea of adoption, as well.
Proverbs 16:9 reminds us, “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”* God had a different plan for our family than the one I had laid out for us. It took many disappointments, many prayers, and a number of years to accept that, but eventually we did. We didn’t have a choice. And during those years of waiting a small virtue called Patience began to grow, watered by our tears and nourished from the promises found in God’s Word. I wish I could say that this virtue grew quickly, but it’s been a slow process, impeded by my own self will. But it did take root and I am so thankful that God took the time to teach me the importance of being patient and waiting on Him - for His perfect timing and for His perfect will, even when I couldn’t understand.
In time, we began to assume that God was saying “No” to our request for another child. We would still pray about it every so often, but assumed that God had just shut that door, for whatever reason. We learned contentment and turned our focus to rearing the children we had been given. Whether this was truly God wanting to instill patience in me, or whether it was just a matter of His perfect timing, I don’t know. But, after eight and half years of infertility, God surprised us with yet another baby boy. We named him Samuel because, like the Biblical Hannah, we “…asked for him from the Lord” (I Sam. 1:19).
I can’t say I am a model of patience yet. I still prance in front of the microwave and I still mutter things to other drivers as I navigate about town. But God is working on me! I have already learned, in a big way, that the rewards of patience far outweigh any satisfaction I can attain by getting things on my timetable!
*Scripture quoted from New King James Bible
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