I decided two years ago, after reading the book “Breaking Busy,” which I am obsessed with, that I would go back to a paper planner instead of using the calendar on my phone. I found a beautiful one that I carried with me wherever I went, and last fall I replaced it with the same brand and style but a different color scheme.
Only, unlike the first version, this one malfunctioned almost immediately. Only about one month in and the paper started coming off the rings. I should have brought it back to Barnes and Noble and gotten a replacement, but I had already filled it out for the year so I just kept putting it off.
As I look at my planner now, I think it may have been prophetic. It is indeed broken, difficult to use, and more of a pretty thing to look at than something I need. And only recently have I realized how deeply this has impacted my spiritual and emotional health.
I am a woman with a plan, and whether it is my family life, meal planning for the week or my professional life, planning programming and sermon series in advance, I love the rhythm of making a plan and watching it unfold.
Jeremiah 29:11 says: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Our Associate Minister preached the heck out of this text last Sunday. She reminded us that this text was spoken to a people in exile who were just told that they had to stay in place for a while longer. Not just a while, though, they were supposed to start families and build houses and plant gardens in this new land. Generations would be stuck in this place they couldn’t exit soon enough.
Reverend John Lee Jr. taught on this scripture in the last in-person church event we had, saying the people were probably like, “If you would have just told us to rent, OK, but really, God?! Get a mortgage?? Here?!”
At the beginning of this thing I felt grounded. I felt the tiniest sense of control because we could plan online worship and check on our people and stay home and nest with our families.
But if I’m honest, I have lost a lot of what motivated me early on. Now I can’t plan what church will look like in six months. I am tired of cooking and I’m ready to go home to the creature comforts I’m used to.
I finally got honest with God and myself recently about how I was feeling, so I brought it up with my counselor who reminded me, “You have to take this one day at a time. And make a list of what you want to do when this is over, because there will come a day when this is over. Hope is essential. Don’t lose it.”
Plans to give you hope and a future… Thanks Counselor Connie… I know someone else who said that.
Friends, if you are a control freak like me, things have been hard, but they may feel even harder as we live into a new new normal. (New normal was shelter in place. New new normal is the cluster of the world trying to figure out how to re-engage while Covid-19 is still around.)
So, yes, there are many things we cannot plan for. But there are also many things we can trust in and hope for. And also, by the way, our God has this crazy way of re-routing our plans in the biggest and most beautiful ways.
On a call with our ministry team this morning I said, “It feels like we want and need each other now more than ever, but we are all just sick and tired of Zoom calls. It seems like we are called to dig deeper into our faith on a personal level right now.”
So we decided that we would put together a self-guided Sunday school devotional booklet for the summer.
There is so much we don’t know. But, church, here is what we do know: as Jen Hattmaker said “The things that matter will last.” Programs will not go on as normal. Worship looks different. Life is getting boring. But maybe God is positioning God’s self to show up when we least expect it. I’m going to follow Counselor Connie’s wisdom and try to regain my grip on the hope my faith is founded on.
Want to join me?