Early in September, I sat beside a friend from church at a high school football game. Her son was a senior running back and linebacker and arguably the best player on the field while my freshman son was likely to stay on the sidelines. I remembered the previous year when my husband took this young man to a college game as a potential recruit and recalled learning his dream was to play in the NFL. I could hardly wait to see what the season and the future held.
As the game began, he piled up the rushing yards and delivered several crushing tackles. Then, still in the first quarter, we threw an interception. I watched as this amazing player crossed the field and almost caught up with the speedy defender … only to be knocked sideways out of bounds within arms length of preventing the touchdown.
In that instant, this young man’s future changed dramatically as torn ligaments in his knee destroyed his dream. Tears filled my eyes at the sight of his parents sitting silently on either side of him while a bag of ice melted on his knee. I could only imagine the shock and confusion he felt and prayed for wisdom on what, if anything, I could say to encourage them.
The first truth that whispered into my heart is that God was not caught off guard or surprised by the injury. God wasn’t seated in heaven wringing His hands and struggling to come up with a Plan B.
Immediately following that thought was the reassurance that God is good and has a good plan. “‘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.'” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) That meant God had something better in mind for this young man than a career in the NFL. He just had to figure out what that plan was.
All this young man had to do was trust God to work out the details and direct his path. Not that learning to trust God in the tough times is an easy thing to do. But great things require great faith … and faith grows in the hard times when we have to trust.
Have my dreams ever fallen apart? Absolutely. And I’d like to think I handled the disappointment in a mature manner. But at least I have eventually reached the place of trust. Through the journey, my faith has grown and I’m prepared to face the next challenge.
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 NIV) “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21 NIV)
When my dreams and plans unexpectedly fall apart, it’s only a detour on the journey toward God’s plan for my life.
What about you? Have your dreams ever fallen apart? How did you handle it? Do you believe God has a good plan for your life? Why or why not?