When Your Plans Are Thwarted By Others
Not that long ago, I was trying to leave the parking lot of a shopping center during rush hour, and get turned around in the right direction for home.
This meant that I was going to have to navigate my way to a narrow median and then wait for a break in traffic before flooring it to get into the desired lane. Suddenly, I saw my moment--things were going to work out perfectly with the oncoming cars moving just in the right sequence.
Everything was perfect until one of the drivers decided to make a turn, and the whole sequence fell apart.
"Aaaaghhh!" I exclaimed. My wife Merideth sat quietly for a second and then asked, "Did you seriously just get mad at the person for making a turn?" "Yes!" I exclaimed, "They messed up my whole plan!" "You're ridiculous," she told me. I knew she was right, but I didn't admit it.
Until now, that is.
I once read a quote from the Roman Emperor and Stoic, Marcus Aurelius that spoke right into my angst over the driver who turned and messed up my plans.
"While it's true that someone can impede our actions, they can't impede our intentions or our attitudes, which have the power of being conditional and adaptable."In other words, almost on a daily basis, other people are going to do things that will thwart your plans, foil your best-laid schedules and otherwise mess you up. You can't control those kinds of things, but what you can control is how you react to them.
In Romans 8:6, the Apostle Paul wrote these words:
”But to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace."Paul, who was almost definitely influenced by the Stoic thinkers of his day, appropriates Aurelius' advice but sees it as a practical way for Christians to follow Jesus more fully.
Essentially, when we are focused on following Jesus, and being led by his Spirit (which means being fully surrendered to God), we find that no one (or no-thing) can steal our peace.
May you see all the moments when your plans are thwarted today as opportunities to learn, to grow and to draw closer to Jesus. May you surrender the outcomes of those moments and embrace the peace of Christ--the peace that "passes all understanding."
And may the grace and peace of Christ be with you now and always. Amen.