Near the end of junior high, I realized my eyesight was deteriorating.
As I picked my way through the packed hallways of Glades Junior High, I was amazed at how my classmates streamed through the crowd with such ease—even in dark stairwells. How could they do that without bumping into schoolmates or lockers?
When we played softball in P.E., I couldn’t understand how my teammates could catch the ball so easily. I would stand out in right field, glove in hand, and stare intently at the ground, trying to see the shadow of the approaching ball. Then I’d listen to hear where it landed and hope I could find it.
My math grades began to drop too. Even though I didn’t know it at the time, I couldn’t tell the difference between a three and an eight.
Hard as it was to admit, I knew it wasn’t normal for me not to be able to see a softball in the air, the stairs in a stairwell, or the numbers written on a blackboard.
I finally told my mom, who immediately took me to an ophthalmologist. He tried to compensate for the changes in my sight with stronger glasses, but it didn’t help. Eventually, he referred me to an eye hospital.
After several days of testing, we learned I had retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative disease that slowly eats away the retina of the eye. There was no cure, and no way to correct the damage already done.
At fifteen, I was legally blind—and, the doctors told us that my retinas would continue to deteriorate until I was totally blind.
So much for my plans!
With that diagnosis, many of the plans I’d had for my life, which included becoming a commercial artist and cartoonist, faded. It was surreal and it was beyond hard.
Oh, friend, you may be facing your own kind of hard today. And, whatever that hard is, it doesn’t fit into the plans you had for your life. But you are not alone. This week’s 4:13 Podcast guest, Laura Story, understands. Like you and me, she’s been there.
Laura is the Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter of the songs, “Blessings,” “Indescribable,” and “Mighty to Save.” And, if you’ve been a 4:13er for long, you may remember hearing her talk about living life with open hands on Episode 18.
This week she’s back and I don’t want you to miss a single word!
Laura has a new book, I Give Up: The Secret Joy of a Surrendered Life, and she shares with us her compelling story of finding blessing in her deepest pain. She’s going to help you see that on the hardest days of your life, saying, “I give up!” is a great place to begin.
3 Ways to Give Up Your Plans for God’s Plans
- Surrender your emotions to God. Laura shares how surrender—or the giving up of our plans for God’s plans—includes letting go of emotions such as unforgiveness. When someone has wronged us, we often feel justified in carrying that “wrongedness” around. But, Ephesians 4:32 encourages us, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Laura shares how Christ is our model for how to forgive. She also goes on to add that it’s important for us to remember that Jesus’ death on the cross not only paid for our sins, but also for the sins of the person who’s hurt us. She says if we want to be partakers of the grace of God, we can’t turn around and be poor stewards of it.
Friend, you may be carrying around unforgiveness today. Choose to surrender it. When you withhold forgiveness from others, you are the one being imprisoned—not the other person. They may never even know you are holding something against them. But, when you choose God’s plan and surrender your unforgiveness, it leads to reconciliation with others and personal freedom.
- Surrender your idea of what provision is. In Laura and her husband’s first two years of marriage, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She shares how there were complications with the initial surgery and her husband now lives with a vision deficit and a memory deficit. It was out of this unplanned part of their story that she wrote the song, “Blessings.”
When Laura won a Grammy for it, she remembers standing in front of news outlets and being asked, “Tell us what made you write this song.” She remembers responding, “I would have loved to have written the song about how God blessed me through winning the lottery—that would have been awesome. But no one would have related to that.” Laura went on to share with them about brokenness and how all of us have it in our lives.
You may be experiencing brokenness today and God has not shown up in the way you expected. He hasn’t moved mountains and fixed whatever it is that’s broken in your life. If you find yourself there, Laura encourages you to trust God as you face your mountains. Even if the mountain isn’t moving, God is still providing. His provision is found in His presence.
- Surrender your strength for God’s strength. Laura talks about how we find our true strength in Christ—and this strength is connected to meditating on Scripture. She says that we meditate on God’s Word when we consistently read it again and again. And, as we do, we ask God to speak to us through it.
For Laura, Psalm 13 is a “go to” passage of encouragement. In it, David starts with the honest confession of feeling like God has abandoned him. But, Laura says that David doesn’t allow those feelings to reign. He closes the Psalm with:
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me. (Psalm 13:5-6)
This reminds her to sing God’s praises even before she sees resolution, and she says you can do the same. You may not understand why your life has turned out a certain way—and you may not like it very much. But, you can look back at God’s track record of faithfulness in your life and realize that it’s worth praising God over.
Friend, our best lives really are lived in surrender to God’s plans. He never promises that we’ll understand His ways this side of heaven. But, what He does promise is to provide for us in the midst of it and that He will always be faithful to work all things together for good.
So, no matter how broken or out of control you feel, remember, you can do all things—including giving up your plans for God’s plans—through Christ who gives you strength.
Books and Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- Hosea: Unfailing Love Changes Everything
- Lessons I Learned in the Dark: Steps to Walking by Faith, Not by Sight
More from Laura Story
- I Give Up: The Secret Joy of a Surrendered Life
- Blessings CD
- Open Hands CD
- Laura’s website
- Can I Live My Life With Open Hands [Episode 18 With Laura Story]
*** You can hear from amazing women like Laura at a Fresh Grounded Faith event near you! Find an FGF in your area here.
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What is one small way you can choose to give up—or surrender—your plans to God’s plans this week?