A couple of mornings ago I was having my quiet time in my bedroom. My husband walked in, and he said exactly what I had been thinking, “I feel like this year (2018) is a blank slate. I honestly have no idea what to expect.” Yep. He took the thoughts that had been rolling around in my head and verbalized them perfectly. For the first time in at least a couple of years, the year ahead felt like a big blank slate of unknown possibilities. We truly had no idea what to expect. In previous years we at least had some idea of what we thought the year would hold. Two years prior, we started the year awaiting our foster license, knowing that any day we would get licensed and start our journey as foster parents (and as parents in general!). One year ago, we started the new year knowing that in January or February we would be adopting our son and that in April we would be meeting and saying goodbye to our daughter.
But this new year was different. We literally had no expectations for the year. We had hopes and desires, of course, but no real expectation of what the future held.
Looking back at the last two years, while we started the year with clear expectations, the Lord gave us plenty of surprises along the way. While in our minds we had ideas of how our journey would look, we could not have predicted how it was actually going to go. If each year was a blank slate, at the beginning of the year we had already etched into it our plans and expectations. Sure we knew God would work and move in our lives, but we honestly hadn’t planned (nor could we have) for the absolutely unexpected things He had planned for us. It’s humbling, isn’t it? To make our plans, etch them in stone, and watch as they are taken by the Lord, changed here and there, and etched into something different we never could have imagined. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” So even when we plan our way and chart out each step, ultimately we must remember that our steps belong to the Lord. This proverb was instrumental in helping my natural planner self release and surrender my plans into the hands of my loving Father. I come back to it again and again when I’m struggling to let my own plans go. I want to make sure I say that there’s nothing wrong with prayerfully planning and setting goals. That is a good thing! What we have to resist, though, is the temptation to etch them in our blank slate as if we are saying, “I’ve made this plan so it must go this way.” We have to allow our heart to leave room for the Lord’s work and not get so caught up in our own plans that we miss the way He is trying to direct our steps.
So as you look into this new year at your blank slate, prayerfully set your goals and plan your steps, but don’t forget to humbly surrender all these things to the Lord. He will establish your steps, and while there will be surprising joys and trials, His plan will be more beautiful than you could have imagined.
Pressing on in faith, Jennifer