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Nicole

Plans

 As much as I’d like to think of myself as a spontaneous person, I know I’m more of the planning type.  I don’t need to have things planned down to the minute – I welcome spontaneity – but I’m also not the type of person who is 100% keen on “playing things by ear.”  Ugh.  That phrase makes me cringe.

When it comes to making plans for the day or even something like an event, I can come up with a great system to make sure things get accomplished and organized.  I make a plan, I execute it, and usually things fall into place as anticipated.  Usually.

Fortunately, I’ve had this ability for the better part of my life so when it came time to plan for college I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  I decided I would go to Bible College, get married immediately after graduation, have kids, a steady job, work in ministry alongside my husband and save the world one church service at a time.  This plan was not only solid it was doable and had been easily accomplished by several others before me.

I did end up going to Bible College straight out of high school, I graduated in four years, and I landed a steady job at that same college two months after graduation.  Even though I wasn’t married at this point, I was at least happy to be on course with my life road map and I was sure my husband would be in the picture relatively soon.

Somewhere along the line, God and I stopped functioning on the same page.  Plan A was going just fine and now I’m living smack dab in the middle of plan triple Z.  The husband has yet to be found, the kids are still non-existent, the steady job is gone, and it was only up until last year that I became actively involved in ministry again.

Living outside of my original plan has been anything but easy.  I’ve had to deal with the hurt that comes from broken dreams and unmet expectations – and the stress and fatigue that comes with revising life plans is exhausting and, at times, overwhelming.

However, as much as I would have liked to stick to plan A (or at least something resembling it), I could have never planned for all of the amazing things that have resulted from living outside of my original blueprint.  The experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve met, the lives I’ve impacted and those that have impacted me – plan A would not have allowed for any of it.

I’m learning that it’s my job to continue to seek God and make plans – I can’t just float and hope for the best – ultimately trusting that his plan is always the best plan.  He knows what’s on the other side of the closed doors and he’ll lead me to the open ones I might not have ever considered walking through (James 4:13-15).

He has a plan for every one of us.  It may not always look like what we have dreamed or anticipated it to be, but if we continue to trust him with our lives he will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).  Trust in him.

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About two months into my freshman year at Life Pacific College, I learned a harsh lesson in mastering the concrete jungle that is Los Angeles.  Even though I lived in Southern California most of my life, I actually grew up in the Antelope Valley where the navigation system is about as cut and dry as the valley itself: open roads, one freeway, and streets labeled by numbers, letters, nature, and aerospace.

So when a friend of mine asked to meet in Burbank, I confidently hopped in the car and was on my way.  All I had on me was a thirst for adventure and a vague recollection of verbal directions from San Dimas to Burbank.  I knew all about the 210 and was starting to understand the 134, but at this point had no idea how it all connected to the 5 to get me where I needed to be.

Once I transitioned to the 134, I remembered to exit at “Hollywood Way.”  This would have been correct had I taken the exit with the same name from the 5 freeway, not the 134.  Nothing looked familiar, but I came to the conclusion that something would strike my memory if I kept turning right.

About an hour into what should have been a 30-minute journey, I cried out to God asking for a sign.  Next thing I knew, I saw airplanes flying overhead and thanked God because my friend lived close to Bob Hope International.  Come to find out, the planes I saw were actually coming from LAX and I was nowhere close to Burbank; I was in Inglewood.

Being in a time when smart phones didn’t exist, I pulled over to a local business and asked someone for directions.  A man told me to take freeways I never heard of, but I trusted his instruction, got back in the car and tried again.  Fortunately, the man was right and I “only” ended up being two hours late to meet my friend.

Had I called my dad (a master of L.A. freeways) prior to leaving, my day would have taken a much different turn – literally and figuratively.  Instead, I took off into the unknown relying solely on my then very limited knowledge of the L.A. landscape and ended up lost, worried, tired, and frustrated.

Life is much the same as this little story of mine.  So many times in our life journey, we try to make it on our own without consulting the Master first or sometimes at all.  Without turning to him for guidance, we can end up lost, confused, and weary from a rough journey that may have otherwise been shorter or easier had we tried going his way in the first place.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”

Who better to navigate your life journey than to follow directions from the One who created your journey?  Trust him in all things and he will lead you safely home.

– Nicole Perez

Joshua : God’s Guidance 2/10/13