We had it all planned out. Our family was all going to be home on a chilly, fall Saturday night. A rarity and a treat. To make the most of the occasion, I made a giant pot of chicken noodle soup. We planned to build a fire in the living room. We picked out a family-friendly movie none of us had seen. I even double-checked it out on my faithful Common Sense Kids Media app. We made sure it was available on Netflix, and hooked up the Wii (to run our Netflix through) in the living room, so we could cuddle, giggle and stay cozy by the fire.
But we had an uncannily warm day for late autumn. Which was gift. We went on a family walk around the neighborhood. The kids tossed the football out front. We raked leaves and savored the sunshine. But at dinnertime, as we gathered in the living room with our bowls of steaming soup, we unanimously agreed we didn’t really need or even want a fire.
We queued up the movie and after the opening song; a squiggly greenish line sabotaged the screen. The TV, which had been glitching in and out, went out out. No problem. We’re a modern American family. We own another television. So, we all gathered our bowls and spoons, our cups and the Wii, and headed into the family room. Ten minutes later we were like Groundhog’s Day, watching the same opening song. But thirty minutes later, my husband and I looked at each other, with the universally recognized “what the heck are we watching?” face. We’d already exchanged this look earlier in the film, but had decided to wait it out. Enough waiting.
I piped up, “So, guys, does anyone actually want to keep watching this?”
No one yelled, “I do, I do!”
But four sets of blue eyes looked at me with expressions saying, “What if we don’t, Mom? Is that okay?”
Again, we decided to change our well laid plans. We clicked stop. Switched to Mr. Bean’s Holiday (which is bizarrely a cult favorite in our house) and laughed so hard, I thought we would all tumble off the sectional.
We had plans. Good plans. We had intentionally scheduled family time—a meal and ambiance and a movie and even a means to watch it. But they did not work out. And we still had a blast. And this is how God’s plans in life often are for us. We plan, we organize, we make lists, and they don’t go as we intended, as we hoped. But the cool thing is God knows way better than you or I what the best plans for us are. The movie night is a tiny example, but what God had in store for us, was even lovelier than what we’d sketched out.
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! Ephesians 3:20
Conversely, a few days later we found another rare evening when the six of us were gathered around the dinner table. We were eating waffles for dinner, because it’s fun, and because my picky-eater daughter who rarely enjoys the meal named “dinner” had requested them. I was just placing the syrup on the table, when Brett called from another room, “Honey, can you come here a minute?”
A little flustered that instead of coming to the table, he was summoning me away from the table, I peeked in on him.
“Do you think we should go?” he whispered and pointed to his laptop.
He was pointing to the show times for a family flick we’d all wanted to see. It was playing in one hour, at a theatre 45 minutes from our house. Fandango would not let us pre-purchase tickets, so there was a gamble of getting there and having the show sold out. We hadn’t been to this particular theatre before, so we weren’t exactly sure where it was. “Do you think we can make it?” he asked.
This is where most of the world says, “Heck, yeah!” But me, I am a planner. And my brain starts this litany, “We’re sitting down to waffles. That’s really far. We weren’t planning on going out tonight, more of a stay in kinda night.”
But God knew I needed to marry someone spontaneous, or I would officially be "The Most Boring Person on the Face of This Earth." And so, we woofed down our waffles and went. And without planning ahead, without knowing quite where we were headed, or if we’d even get in, we all sat in cushy fold-down chairs, viewed Hotel Transylvania 2 on the big screen as a family, and laughed, a lot.
We try to plan out our lives, *ahem* at least I try to plan out my life. I make lists, and constantly refer to my calendar App. Intentionality is a great thing. Without agendas and outlines no funds would be raised, no bills would be paid, no holiday meals prepared. But we need to do our part (the planning, the intentionality), and then let God take over. Because God’s plans are bigger. God’s plans are better. Whereas we only see tiny portions of the mural of our lives, He sees the whole thing, our true reflections and our destinies, and therefore, what makes best sense. Whether it’s something as simple as “What’s for dinner?” or something huge, like “Should I move across the country to go to that school or take that job?” God is in control. He made us. He loves us. And therefore He has our best interest in mind. It means letting go of the steering wheel, closing our planners, turning off a bad movie, or rushing unexpectedly out the door to see a new one. But trusting in God will always allow for an amazing adventure to ensue.
Seen any good movies lately?
Laura L. Smith