I have a friend who is IN LOVE. With a capital IN LOVE.
She’s a godly woman who loves Jesus and is living for Him. She’s just a handful of days older than me, and back when we met each other at nineteen (wee babes, you know), we had many, many conversations about the future that we were certain was only a few years away for both of us. Husbands, children, ministry. The stuff of dreams, you know.
She was well equipped for this future. She was majoring in elementary education at a small Christian university and certainly already acted the role of teacher as she had a natural way of relating to children and encouraging them. She was plugged into a large church with an active singles ministry and had a long list of friends to keep her social calendar busy. I went and visited her right before we both graduated from college, and her apartment was over the top adorable and welcoming with all of the decorating she’d done with her homemaker’s heart and skills. It was clear that she was ready for that godly husband to come right along and see her for the treasure that she was.
But he didn’t. And nineteen turned into twenty-two, then on to twenty-five. Then, it became thirty, and before we knew it, we were thirty-five. And still, God hadn’t done what we had figured He should have done years ago. My friend stayed the way she was — sweet, kind, godly, and ready — and still, God hadn’t brought anyone along.
Over the years, I prayed for her, that God would bring along the right guy. While I was single, I prayed that for both of us, then as God brought Wes to me and gave us two children so quickly, I prayed it again and again, knowing that this, what I was experiencing, was what she was so much better equipped for than I had ever been. And as the years went by, I prayed some more. And I asked Wes why he couldn’t have had a couple of brothers to fix her up with because she was the perfect woman! (He apologized for being an only child. Which didn’t help me fix my friend up, you know, so whatever.)
At a certain point, I have to wonder if she stopped believing this was something God had for her. If perhaps He was deferring this dream, not for a time, but for forever, because He had something better for her. If she felt that it was time to pack away the hopes she’d had, figure out what He was teaching her through it, and go on.
Then, when she least expected it, she met someone.
And not just someone. The RIGHT someone. Someone who, she has said, was better than she could have ever imagined meeting. And as they continue on and all the dreams she’d had seem to be on their way to coming true, I have to wonder at God’s timing, how He didn’t do things the way she had planned… how He ended up doing things the way He planned.
I don’t mean to say that everything we hope God will do will one day be done. God would still be good, better than good, if He had planned something different for her. He would still be good and kind and loving and HIM, even if it had ended differently. The very fact that He worked differently in this situation in His timing points to His goodness, that He knew what He was doing, even if it didn’t happen as quickly as we imagined it should back when we were nineteen.
I’m challenged to remember this as I wait on the Lord in different seasons of my life. When Jesus came and lived here with us, His plan was so much different than everyone else’s. Even those closest to Him couldn’t quite grasp that His kingdom, the kingdom they’d waited for over centuries of history, wasn’t going to be what they had imagined. Rome wouldn’t be overthrown, He wouldn’t reign in Israel on a human-made throne, and life would not get easier for them. His plans were so much greater than their plans. Freedom from sin, redemption, an eternal kingdom the likes of which they had never even imagined — those were His plans. Different from theirs? Oh, yeah. Better than theirs? Absolutely. And two thousand years later, we’re waiting for the ultimate fulfillment of those plans, as He reigns in our hearts and we anticipate the day when He’ll return and reign forever.
His timing is never off. His plans are never wrong. His way of working in our hearts and in our world is always right. Praying for the faith to know and believe this entirely, no matter how limited my own understanding is…