I have often shared the opposite with people: Life interferes with plans. My to-do list constantly changes as I respond to an unexpected phone call, email, or an unplanned issue that has arisen. I have also come to realize that plans interfere with life.
Several years ago, before Disney granted access to all visitors, a colleague created a vacation book, with details on how to reserve a spot for Princess teas, participate in the daily parades, and go on some rides without waiting in line. My colleague even created a daily schedule, which included when to get up, who’s office to visit once you entered the park, and so on.
I was overwhelmed just looking at the book. I have no idea how long it took her to put it together. But there were dividers for each activity and just about every moment of the 5-day visit was planned. At the time, I thought that this was a lot of work for a vacation. With all the planning, was there room for spontaneity? What happened if the woman’s granddaughter didn’t want to be with the princesses, or if she wanted to explore an option her grandmother hadn’t considered.
How often do we make plans and keep to schedules in our own lives? Are we so focused on the errands we have for the day, or the tasks we need to complete this week, that we don’t take time to just be still? Many pastors struggle to honor our Sabbath time. Even on what’s supposed to be a day of rest, we have plans that we reserve for this day.
Since the pandemic has forced us to sit at home, I am more aware of how I filled up my day off with going someplace and doing something. Until one of those things was a visit to Meijer Gardens. The first time I went, I was actually on my way to complete an errand. Instead, I made a detour to walk through the gardens and see the variety of plants, sculptures (and of course butterflies) and sit in the shade of trees. And be in conversation with God.
It is so easy for us to be busy, to create a schedule and follow it. How long is your to-do list? Is there a space which has nothing in it, to allow life to break into what we are doing? God has created a wondrous world for us to enjoy. God’s still small voice will come to us, not in the midst of the plans we’ve made, but in the quiet times of our lives. May we embrace the words of Psalm 46: 10. I want to share both The Message version and the NIV version with you for reflection.
Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” (The Message)
Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields[ with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (NIV)