For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13 NASB).
Years ago, my fiancée — who happens now to be my wife Donna — went home to Ohio for the Christmas holiday hoping to see snow. She didn't. However, on her return back to college on this exact Sunday thirty years ago, we traveled to church together on icy roads. Her first night back brought ice and then a beautiful snowfall. Unfortunately, we slid off the road and into a ditch when someone pulled out in front of us. A kind man winched us back on the road and we made it to church. Not many others made it, but we did.
Today, thirty years later, I made my way to church on ice-glazed roads. Most folks stayed at home, but all those bright-eyed college couples were there. Most other churches completely cancelled — those of you in winter climates don't laugh too hard, but we usually don't get snow here, just bad ice and it tends to shut everything down.
We had planned a huge kickoff to our new theme for the year along with several ministry opportunities during today's service. The banners were in place, the sermon and slides were prepared, the songs were carefully chosen, and prayer leaders were carefully selected. The ice and small crowd caused us to completely change our plans for today.
Life is like that, isn't it? We get all of our ducks in a row and then the weather ... or our health ... or concern for a loved one ... or a job change ... or something from our past ... or a host of other things intervene. Before we know it, our plans have to be completely overhauled. So much for all the careful preparations! The "just right" moment seems to have vanished forever. Our great opportunity appears to have evaporated! Our spirits are in the pits. If we are not careful, we give up on all of our plans.
So I want to encourage you, as I also challenge myself, to be more open to the presence of God at work in your life. Trust that he really cares about what happens to you. Believe that he is at work in you to do his work and his will through you. Sometimes those unexpected changes in our plans are really God's gracious intervention to accomplish his greater plans through us.
Today at church, we just went a different direction. We'll use all that preparation and all those plans we made for this week, next week. We'll adapt and make a few changes and trust that God's timing is better than our own. Several folks from other churches joined with us in worship today because their services were cancelled. It was nice seeing old friends. There was a sweet and friendly spirit that bound us all together on this cold icy day as we shared in the Lord's Supper, some simple songs, and a few reflections from God's Word. On this day, a change in plans brought unexpected blessings. I hope your next change in plans brings you the same. More importantly, I hope they are a reminder that you are not walking through life alone and that your Father has a great plan for you if you will take a moment and listen for his leading.