When my senior student Jackson told me he was going to be applying to the University of Delaware, I was beyond thrilled. He had visited the campus, fell in love with it, and was ready to be a part of the great legacy that had started for me many years ago. As my alma mater, I had frequently talked it up in class, touting its many wonderful assets. I was a Fightin’ Blue Hen all the way, blue and yellow true. As one of my best and brightest students, I was excited for the fact that someone like him would be representing Delaware, as he embodied what it meant to be a UD student. But when the wait-list letter came to him in January, his heart sank and his shoulders drooped, dismayed by the lack of unrequited love from the college.
As the months dragged on and his status of wait-listed remained, he began to begrudgingly look elsewhere for his future as the light on Delaware slowly dimmed. At some time in the spring, he made his way out to the University of Tennessee for a visit, mostly through a chance opportunity, and took a liking to it. It wasn’t what he really wanted, but it was a decent substitute. This fall, he’s reported back to me that he is deliriously happy there and can’t imagine life anywhere else.
A wise man once told me that sometimes life makes decisions for you. The “Jurassic Park” movies have a similar theme: life finds a way. For Christians, we like to suggest that when God closes a door, He opens a window. All three of these approaches are basically surrounding the same idea, that in time, we always end up where we’re supposed to be. The Bible is filled with example of individuals who, like us, were unable to see the planned course of their life, but it was revealed to them in time.
When a group of exiles found themselves discouraged and the light of their hope dimming, the prophet Jeremiah wrote a letter to them relaying God’s words of encouragement: “’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’” (29.11). This verse is usually cited to give encouragement to those who feel lost, letting them know that God has a plan for them. However, it also indicates that the plan is often known only to Him and not to us. That He knows the plan implies trust on our part. We are blind to the course of our life, and we require Him to lay it out to us in due time, and if we trust Him, He will put us where we are supposed to go.
My senior students are panicking right now, as they have no idea where they will be next September. I’ve been trying to keep them as calm as possible, so I let them know that the people who were sitting in their seats a year ago are all somewhere else now, and that they all figured it out. Life found a way, and they all ended up where they were supposed to be. For my current seniors, the only thing that stands between them and the knowledge of where they are going next is time. In time, it will be revealed to them, so there is no need to panic because they’ll end up where they’re supposed to be.
Years ago, after my son was born, my wife and I tried to adopt. We felt that we had the means to help someone who had nothing, so adoption would give us that opportunity. We applied to a Russian adoption agency, interviewed, and were told that we were ideal candidates: we had a good income, we had stability, and we had proven ourselves to be good parents with our son. We went home and planned our life and house for the eventual arrival of our child. The timeframe should have been brief, but after the agency moved our paperwork through several regions over a five-year period and nothing was happening, we began to see the light dimming for us. There were plenty of children in need, but American-Russian relations, when it came to adoption, were being politically strained, and we were caught in the middle.
No matter how hard we tried or how much money we spent, doors were closed in our faces repeatedly. Finally, we figured that maybe God and life were trying to tell us something, so we withdrew our paperwork. We realized that we already had such a great kid, so maybe we should call it quits while we were ahead. Sure enough, two months later, Russia closed the door on all foreign American adoptions, no matter what stage they were in. As such, we embraced the idea of being parents to one child, being able to give him anything he wants (without spoiling him), traveling all over the world, and turning the spare bedroom into a Lego room. Now, we can’t imagine a better life than this one and are grateful for the way it all turned out. God had a plan, but we were blind to the outcome because time is the curtain that separates us from the knowledge of that plan. When God draws that curtain back for us, we realize that we will end up where He wants us to be, sometimes despite our best efforts to the contrary.
Our uncertain future, if we let it, can induce panic, as we want to control where we end up. We need to realize that we don’t have any control to begin with, and that we’ll end up in the right place if we wait on and listen to Him. He’s got a plan, and we need not be worried. In time, we will see the greatness of it, but for now, a little patience and trust will smooth over the journey. Amen.