• Barb Lownsbury

God’s Lesson Plan

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I used to be a school teacher. Each day of every week, I would plan out what I wanted each student to learn, grow in and achieve. I tracked their progress, marked their grades, and helped them when they struggled. They had no say in what was taught or even how it was taught. Now, because I loved my students and valued them, and since I wanted them to feel engaged, I would ask for their feedback and seek their opinions on different ideas for projects as we tackled a subject, but as the teacher, it was still my decision to make. Why? I was the expert.

It’s funny how in my own life I can completely forget that I am the student and not the teacher. I am not running the show. Somehow, despite that fact, I get it into my head that I’m in charge, that I’m the one controlling it all and dictating how things should be run. I come before God with my list of who I want to teach me and how I want my classroom run. I forget the important fact: God runs the classroom; not me.

The illusion of being the teacher can center around how God chooses to teach me the lesson I need to learn. Take forgiveness. Alright, I reason. God has forgiven me of much. I can work on forgiving others. I decide I’ll practice on my spouse, my children, a good friend—someone I love and have a vested interest in forgiving. Then God places a particular person in my path or allows a situation to occur that completely wreaks havoc on my well-laid plan. You mean I have to forgive that person? I still have to give grace in even this situation? You’ve got to be kidding me! Yet not until I face that moment have I entered fully into what forgiveness really means. In a very tangible way my heart, my character and my faith are really stretched. I must learn how to rely on God more fully to forgive me of my own bitterness and judgement so I can be set free.

Then there are the circumstance lessons that come my way. While God doesn’t always choosethem since each of us have free will, He is fully capable of always harnessingthem for my growth if I let Him. But I tend to want to argue. I tend to want to debate. I want Him to somehow change my circumstances or give an account for them. Or I want the timing to fit into my schedule instead of trusting He will work in all things for my good, and that His timing is perfect (Romans 8:28; Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Since I am not the teacher, I sometimes need reminding that I don’t get to pick who teaches me what, or how I get learn it. The control I think I maintain is an illusion. The only thing I ever truly have control over (most of the time) is my response. And at this point in my walk, I’m so glad! See, if I had stuck to my way of doing life, I would’ve kept the same results I was getting over and over again. I wouldn’t have learned the beauty of what true forgiveness and healing feels like, or the powerful freedom from no longer allowing someone else’s actions or reactions to hold sway over me. On my own, I would’ve chosen the path of least resistance each and every time. But God, in His infinite wisdom, grabs a hold of my hand and actively helps me to grow. Even when it’s painful. Even when it’s hard.

He is willing to get down in the trenches with me. When I make mistakes, as I invariably will, He is the first one there cheering me on, building me back up and reminding me that with Him by my side, I can do it! He never lets go of my hand during the entire process, even after I’ve tried to let go of His. I can choose to close my eyes and pretend He is no longer there, but still He remains. Faithful always. Even when I’m faithless. He is such a good Father! Such an amazing friend! He cries with me; laughs with me; runs with me; challenges me and loves me unconditionally.

So, when I’m tempted to pick back up my life’s lesson plan, I stop. I think about all that God has done in my life, all that He has healed. I think about the incredibly journey He has blessed me with and all of the places He has taken me. Then I gingerly lay the lesson back into His capable hands. I have learned the hard way that He always does it much, much better than me anyway.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT: What is an area of your life that you struggle with wanting to pick up instead of trusting God has it under control? I know first-hand it can be incredibly hard to want to surrender it. I love Proverbs 3:5-6 for this: “Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heartand do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him,and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]” (AMP). It reminds me of what’s true, which is the role of scripture in the first place.  This week, make time to find a scripture or two that really speak to you and help you surrender and trust.  I’ve included a few below to consider if you need help.  Then, post them somewhere conspicuously so you can be reminded often of who is running the classroom, and that He is far more capable at it than you.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you that you always have me even when I don’t sense it. Thank you for your loving kindness, and that you always work for my good. When I’m tempted to take back up the reins of my life, help me to remember that life goes so much better when You’re in charge of it. I let it go into Your capable hands. Amen.

Scriptures: Romans 8:28-38, Isaiah 49:13-16, Psalm 27, Ephesians 3:16-21

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