Well, that didn’t go as planned.

Well, that didn't go quite as planned

There must be a logical explanation for it, or so I thought.  Yet, after hours of work the same problem remained.  It is unclear if the issue will ever get resolved, although there are only a few things it could be.  Am I missing something obvious?

Before you think that I have become a deep thinker, let me assure you that what I am talking about is an issue with someone’s car.  The many hours of work, while helpful, didn’t prove to solve the issue the car was facing.  This is perplexing, but not life or death.  I expected to fix the problem and found the problem still remained.

I don’t know how many times I have found myself puzzled and thinking, “well, that didn’t go as I planned.” This has happened so often in my life that all of the experiences just run together in my mind.  Each day comes with certain expectations.  Thinking about how to handle potential situations is a part of daily life.  We think through positive and negative experiences in order to come up with a response for them and consider our options with opportunities that may come.  But, even with the best plans, things don’t always work the way we plan them.  We don’t always have the right answer for everything.

As a parent, I am often puzzled at how I am to respond to something one of my children does.  I know that it will only get more confusing as they get older.   As a youth pastor, it can be a significant challenge to speak into a situation someone is facing that is unusual and quite difficult.  There are things in life that don’t fit into that perfect little box that many of the popular books teach.

I once got a phone call from a student who told me they were suicidal.  In the conversation, I realized that all they really wanted was someone to listen to them.  In other words, they did not have a plan, method or really desire to actually commit suicide. At the time, I really never knew when the phone calls would come and what condition the caller would be in when they called.  Each time I would listen and attempt, by God’s grace, to speak to the situation and pray with the person.  In all of it, my goal was to get the person the help they needed, which they eventually did get.  These things cannot be simulated.  It is the real world and it happens in real-time.

I have had those phone calls or visits from students who I thought were really following God, only to find out they have gotten themselves into some serious trap of sin.  It is not expected and makes me rely on the Holy Spirit for words.  Retreats are another time the unexpected happens because students are out of their normal element and often God does something dramatic in them.  I love this, but it is hard to know what to expect.

The other day I wrote about disappointments.  Disappointments are a part of life, but the funny thing is that most of the disappointments don’t need to be there.  Why?  The Bible tells us that God directs our steps.  This means that I need to trust Him for it all, even in what is unexpected to me.  The unexpected to me is never the unexpected to God.

“A man’s steps are direct by the LORD.  How then can anyone understand his own way.”  Proverbs 20: 24

This is a valuable lesson for all of us.  It is not that we need to know it all, but we need to know the One who does.  It is in Him we trust, even when things don’t go as we planned.  We can’t understand the plan anyway, so let’s just get close to the One who does and trust Him for the results.

Expect the unexpected because you will never expect what will actually happen. 



  1. Amen! I often say I don’t know the why, what, when, where, etc. but I know the One who does! Life never goes as planned according to our plans, but it always goes as planned when He makes the plans. Angie

  2. The disappointments still hurt even though the “no” comes from God. It gets easier with time and practice, but I think that’s called maturity 🙂

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