How far ahead does God plan?

So how far ahead does God plan for us? When a pioneer family found shelter in a 400-year-old hollow sycamore, had God planned to have that available for them? When old acquaintances have a chance meeting and one ends up working for the other, did God plan that detour one made that day? When the young Manuel Noriega wrote a complimentary letter to some American missionaries, was that so they could produce it and be allowed to stay when they were told to leave Panama? When I left my Bible and planner at the church building on Sunday, was that so I’d go there at an unexpected time today? I don’t know the answers to any of those questions. I know I believe that God works in our lives, and on this earth we will not know the breadth and depth and width of his plans for us.

Sunday I was busy taking an extra bag to my car and helping Tina, who recently had surgery and was riding with us. In all the bustle, I left my Bible and daily planner on the shelf above the coat rack.

I was greatly aggravated once I arrived home and realized what I’d done. We are only 13 miles from the church building, but that’s far for a non-crucial trip. I knew I could pick it up Wednesday evening.

This morning as I was praying while on the #$%$# treadmill, I realized that the church building was in the general vicinity of my writers’ group. I decided that I’d stop there en route back home.

But as I was getting dressed, I felt an urgency to get my books on my way to the meeting, so I hurried and left in barely enough time to make the stop. When I arrived, there in her car sat Valerie, who cooks for the daycare housed on the church property. I didn’t realize at first that there was someone in the car, but she got out to speak to me and I saw that she’d been crying. I hugged her, asked what was wrong, and told her my errand. She just said it was already a bad day.

Together, we read a vulgar message written on the door in lipstick. While I got my books, Valerie got paper towels and was vigorously cleaning it off when I came back out. I could see that she was welcoming the chance to work out her frustrations.

My first inclination was to jump in my car and take off. After all, I had a schedule to stick to. But the priorities here were obvious even to my tunnel vision, so I hugged her and said, “I can see you’re hurting. What can I pray for you?”

Then it all came out—the news, after a previous surgery and weeks of testing, that she has cancer both in her liver and in her small intestine, and it’s two different kinds of cancer, so the treatment is tricky. She poured out her anxiety and frustration and the difficulty of the complicated decision. As I wrapped my arms around her, I prayed for her peace and wisdom and healing.

She said, “I’ve looked for scriptures on healing, and so far I’ve found over forty. Isn’t that amazing?” Her children tell me she reads her Bible a lot, and I encouraged her that she is turned in the right direction. I told her we would bring a group over to pray with her soon.

I hated to leave her there, but she had a job to do also. So I’ve continued to pray for her throughout the day, and to thank God that I forgot my books on Sunday.


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