Because I was confident of this, I wanted to visit you first so that you might benefit twice. I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea. Was I fickle when I intended to do this?
I call God as my witness—and I stake my life on it—that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.
- 2 Corinthians 1:15-17a, 23-24
“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
“I’m not saying justice is for sale, but if you have enough money, you can sometimes enjoy the benefits of a short-term lease.
- Sue Grafton, “Y” is for Yesterday
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”
- Woody Allen
I wrote earlier this year about reading the last Mr. Moto novel, the one that I had not read previously. Now I bid adieu to Kinsey Millhone. The Sue Grafton quote is the final words of Kinsey Millhone. If you are a mystery reader, you may have wondered what the “X” would be. I did as soon as I read my first of her books. My first in the series was D is for Deadbeat. I rarely read things in order. The “X” book broke tradition and was simply “X”. I was so disappointed. The victim could have been playing the xylophone and the music muffled the sound of the murderer approaching. (I was equally bummed when James Patterson entitled the thirteenth installment of the Women’s Murder Club Series as “Unlucky 13”, when he had used the ordinal numbers up to and following that book. It could have easily been “Unlucky 13th.”)
But, I may have been more disappointed when Sue Grafton passed away after publishing her “Y” installment of the Kinsey Millhone mysteries. Besides wondering what the “X” would be, I wondered what would follow “Z”? Now, she’d never write “Z.”
If you are wondering, the next book would have been Z is for Zero, but she had not begun to write the book. Did Sue Grafton have a plan for what came after “Z”? Since she is gone, does it matter?
I have heard that the Woody Allen quote above has been placed on billboards. Does God really laugh when we make plans? Or does God shake His head and say, “If you only knew?” or “If you could only trust My plan for you…”
In the first Scripture, the Apostle Paul changed his plans. It was not part of God’s plan for Paul to return to Corinth. God had a better idea.
The second Scripture speaks of us prospering when we follow God’s plan. If God planned to prosper us, but we insisted on our own plan, why would God laugh? He would be disappointed in us, for we would miss His reward that He had prepared for us.
My wife and I felt that we had to make the trip to the wedding in July, and the visit to the grandchildren was a must in that we had not seen the little ones in over a year. When you are on a shoestring budget and you spend way too much on a trip to visit relatives – seeing some for possibly the last time, you wonder where or when this prosperity is going to emerge? We wonder about prosperity, but in what form? Yet, we live by faith, and faith is a gift from God. He does not fail in His promises.
As for our plans, I wrote yesterday that my wife and I were taking an unplugged day. We did, at least a two-thirds of a day unplugged. But the itinerary was completely thrown out. The unplugged day was my wife’s idea, but she wanted my suggestions. When I suggested downtown Pittsburgh in the Strip District, she couldn’t say “No,” since she had suggested it a week prior, but as she thought about the tremendous amount of walking in the heat, she asked me if we could just go for a drive instead. One plan swapped for another.
Note: For those wondering about “Strip” District, it refers to a specific type of steel product. There are now restaurants, specialty groceries (Chinese, nothing but spices, nothing but chocolates, etc.), bakeries (think biscotti), and such. What was in that area was a steel mill(s) that made thin strip steel products that would usually be coiled for shipment to a manufacturing plant that would then make steel products. Wide ‘strip’ could make a car door, while narrow strip could make a baking pan. (Quotes due to the technical term of ‘strip’ has a width limitation, but is now widely used for any coiled product) – Sorry, I taught this stuff for years and years.
Back to the unplugged day: I suggested a country road near where we live. We had never been on that road south of the county courthouse. In an internet search, I had found a Christian bookstore in the middle of nowhere, actually in a residential area south of Washington, PA, but I had only gotten a small glimpse on the internet. As it turned out, the photos were horribly misleading, but we found it despite the misdirection. The store was on the road of interest, leading south toward West Virginia. We had gone that direction on the interstate, but we had never noticed how the hills got bigger and the valleys got deeper. You lose a lot of perspective driving the interstate.
The first collection of houses south on the road were in a town called Prosperity, more of a village. I had read a few years ago that a pastor had founded the town, trusting that if the townsfolk stayed faithful to God, their town would be prosperous, truly living in faith and trusting in Jeremiah 29:11. The houses in town were old. There were very few houses. Did they fall away from God’s teaching? Or are we thinking of prosperity in only earthly terms?
Oddly, the next town along the road, a little larger, was Nineveh. Maybe the folks from Prosperity visited Nineveh too often, but maybe this Nineveh is nothing like the one in the book of Jonah.
Our road trip ended, except for one stop on the way home, when we reached a big town, had lunch, and my wife said, “Nap time.”
Grand plans for an unplugged day of shopping and trips to museums, but God had other plans. Was God laughing when we made our plans? I doubt it. Nothing happens without God’s sovereignty getting involved.
Did the original townsfolk of Prosperity fall away from God’s teaching? Maybe, probably, but was it in God’s plan to prosper the town with earthly prosperity?
We know that the Apostle Paul detoured, missing Corinth. He states this in 2 Corinthians. We also know that when he returned to Jerusalem, he was imprisoned. But through his imprisonment, we get several of his letters. If Paul was allowed to move freely, would he have been compelled to write, or would he shrug off the urge to write, thinking that he’ll see them in person soon?
Sue Grafton’s plan was to write the “Z” book for publication in the fall of 2019. That never happened and our mystery alphabet is incomplete.
But in all these cases, God’s plan is a better plan. I really doubt that He laughs when we tell Him about our plans. But He is delighted beyond measure when we set our goals aside and reach for His plan.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.