We’ve all heard the statement, “While we are busy making our plans, God laughs.” I was reminded of the statement by a line from T.S. Eliot’s poem, Little Gidding, that was quoted in an article I just finished reading. Eliot writes, “And what you thought you came for, is only a shell, a husk of meaning.”
How often I experience this! I sit down every month on the morning before I am going to meet with my spiritual director and prepare some notes of the issues I plan for us to focus on during the session. Sometimes we actually talk about one or more of those issues. But quite often I find myself opening my mouth at the beginning of the sessions, saying something that bears no relation to anything on my prepared list of issues, and the session takes off from there.
Or I start my annual directed retreat with an idea of what God and I are going to address during the eight days. And then the retreat gets going and I discover that God had an entirely different plan for how we were going to spend our time together.
There is nothing wrong with our having ideas and plans. I certainly get value out of praying back through my prayer journal for the previous month to identify issues to raise with my spiritual director and from reflecting on where God and I might go together during my annual retreat. But we need to remember that we’re not actually running this show…that we are engaged in a mutual relationship with God, who has God’s own ideas and plans in mind. And we need to be open to the fact that sometimes God’s plans and ideas will lead us to something we did not anticipate…and to have the confidence that God knows what God is doing.