When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned

This past week I was back to full health and was able to go with the Elementary students at Daystar on the trip to Camp Kidjam. I not only was thankful to be healthy again, but I absolutely love being able to go as a leader on this camp. Each Sunday I am able to lead a fourth and fifth grade small group and I love it. The thing about the camp is that, as a small group leader, I have an extended period of time to get to know the kids and speak life to them during this time. I had a blast just being able to have fun, scream at the top of my lungs for our team, and see these kids take hold of their faith. It was so great to look at our leaders and kids during worship go all in and truly worship. I still get chills when I think about it. It was absolutely incredible to be there and have a part in the lives of the kids that will lead the world.

Throughout the week the main message was about the life of Paul. It began from his time as Saul who persecuted Christians and moved to when his name was changed to Paul and he became one of the most influential people in the bible. It was a great reminder to me about how even a man who committed horrible acts, could become a hero to so many. On the second to last night, the camp pastor asked the question, “What do I do when life doesn’t go as I planned?” That’s a powerful question, one that everyone deals with, even an elementary school child. We never plan for heartache, struggle, and pain, yet life often throws these at us. A job loss, parents divorcing, or watching someone struggle with addictions, all of these are big and many times are never seen coming until they hit. The pastor talked about in Pauls’ life, he was faced with prison and death, yet he still stood strong. He answered the question by saying that, “God will use every situation, no matter what it is.” To be honest, I wanted him to tell the secret to not having to face pain and get everything you want fast, but life doesn’t work that way. It struck me because so often I want God to fix my life so it can be the picture perfect life that I see in cheesy movies, but the thing is, when the movie ends, life goes on. After thinking about this answer and listening to my guys small group talk about this idea, I understood the importance of the answer. I’d like to share some thoughts on the question and help you see that there is always a plan.

Run towards God, not away.

If there is one important truth in life, it’s that when life goes crazy, run towards God. This isn’t the first reaction I have, when things go wrong or people close to me fall away, I want to crawl in bed and hide. We can’t do that! No problem was ever solved by running away from the issue, problems are solved when we stand brave in the face of the storm. When Paul was placed in prison, in Acts 16:25 it says, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Not only did they praise God in the prison, but they used their situation to share God with others who felt hopeless. Paul didn’t curse God or try to pull off a Shawshank escape, he instead chose to praise and worship. Paul was brave because he put his trust in the one who would never fail him, we need to be brave. My fifth grade guys said that the best way to stand with God is by reading his word and praying in the moments where we are struggling. They get it, and we need to realize that when we face the storm, we need to stand with God.

Realize that God has a bigger plan.

Often in our heads we create a perfect idea of what we want our life to look like. We think about the job we may get, the spouse we may have, our kids and their perfect hipster names, but we forget one thing. None of that is guaranteed. This is something that I dealt with a lot after high school, I chose the perfect college and thought about the best job I could get, then I got a letter saying I had not been accepted, and my life completely changed. I’m so happy it did, I am doing things now that I love, I lead small groups, work with some really cool people, and started this blog! Did I go to the school I wanted? Nope. Do I have a super cool job? Not really. Do I love where I am? Absolutely. Nothing is promised, I may never get married and have a family, or I could have a wonderful family and a wonderful wife. No matter where my life ends up, I know that God will use me in that situation. I don’t understand why bad things happen, all I know is that God has a plan, and it will be incredible.

It starts with you.

We can do all the right things to try and survive the crazy, but until we own our actions, change will not happen. One thing we have to remember is that everyone has the ability to change, you hold that choice. The mistakes in your past have not defined your future. Last night I was Watching X-men Days of Future Past with my sister and there is a scene where Beast is talking to Professor X about how there is a theory that no matter what choice we make, we can’t change the future. The Professor says that he does not believe that theory, he believes that we always have a choice. This is from a movie that has nothing to do really with God, but the truth is still there. We always have a choice, we can choose not to change or we can choose to do better, to be better. Everything starts with you, how you choose to act when you face struggle, how you choose your words when you speak to those who’ve hurt you. There is always a choice, and it starts with you.

rooftopper

This past week was such a great encouragement for me. The past few months have been hard and definitely not what I had planned for my life, but I know that God will use it for good. It’s not ever going to be easy, but I will put my trust in God every time. I will choose to be brave in all situations. The best thing about leading a small group of kids, is being able to see their imaginations at work. They dream big and ask the questions of what if. What if it could be done? What if we could be heroes? What if we could change the world? We need to dream big like a child, to look at what’s happening in our lives and say, how could God use me in this? Know that God has a plan, and make the choice to run towards him. Look at the world around you and see how God has already moved in your life, rest on the fact that God will use you. When life doesn’t go as planned, rise up.

Be brave.

-Joshua Thomas

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