Friday, September 28, 2012

Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

It was the 1970's. Disco was big, everyone was learning to dance the Hustle, and girls bleached their hair and feathered their bangs to the side to get that "Farrah Fawcett look." I was in my senior year at Millikan High School and my favorite class was Mr. Hollis' creative writing class. I remember he loved to talk about his good friend Ray Bradbury, the famous author of Fahrenheit 451, required reading in every English class. I also remember Mr. Hollis kept his saxophone in a case behind his desk. Not a usual teaching tool for creative writing, but if we could get him to reminisce off the topic, we could sometimes get him to play something for us, thereby avoiding an hour of classwork.

Maybe I liked Mr. Hollis class because it was an easy "A" and writing just seemed to come naturally to me. Maybe because Mr. Hollis was always so flattering in his comments about my writing. His glowing remarks made me feel like I was something special and he urged me to pursue writing as a career. He boosted my ego so much, that when I submitted my first paper to my college professor the following year, I was certain he would also be impressed by my great talent!

Wrong. My papers continually came back covered in red marks and harsh criticisms. I had great respect for my professor and figured he must know what he's talking about. I was timid, naive, soft-spoken, and didn't fight back. I figured dear Mr. Hollis had just been trying to encourage me and all that talk about "writing talent" had been mere flattery. I was crushed. I gave up the idea of pursuing a writing career, although I still got my degree in Creative Writing, just because I liked it and it came easy to me.

I spent the next 25 years in a cubicle, typing and filing, designing and proofreading yellow page ads.  Not exactly writing best-sellers. Not writing at all until cancer threw up a detour on my path. Several years into my cancer treatments, a friend's persistent encouragement finally got me to start writing a blog to share my experiences with others. It seems that all these years later, God is finally putting to use the gift of writing He gave me long ago. It still surprises me when people compliment me on my writing, because it comes so naturally to me -- it's no big deal, don't words flow for everybody? Maybe I still believe my college professor more so than Mr. Hollis.

Still, I am moved to see how God gifted me and prepared me for the work He had for me, even if it was nearly 30 years later.

Just a year or two ago when I was sitting next to my good friend Kim in the chemo lounge, she shared another amazing story of God's way of preparing us for His plans. She told me about the time she had taken a philosophy class at a community college. During one class the professor began attacking Christian theology and asked if there were any Christians in the class. Kim was the only one who raised her hand. The professor asked her to convince him of her beliefs and challenged her to a debate against him and the rest of the class on the last day of school. Talk about intimidating!

Kim was scared. She knew that her tender Bible stories wouldn't carry any weight and she was going to have to bring the heavy ammo -- hard facts and plenty of them. She knew she would have to approach this intellectually and normally that just wasn't her style. She studied books on apologetics, talked with friends and pastors, memorized scriptures. Months later, when the day finally came, she was prepared, but then the professor dismissed class early. When Kim asked him 'What about our debate?' his response was that he really didn't care what she had to say. Class dismissed.

I can't imagine Kim's frustration! All that time studying and preparing, all for nothing. What was God thinking? She had prepared for so long and now to not even have the opportunity to share her thoughts was frustrating and discouraging.

The next day she went to the hospital, where she had been supporting a friend and her family whose sister was dying. Kim told me she had the amazing privilege of being with her when she drew her last breath before she entered heaven. After a while, she left the room and went out to the waiting room. She sat down next to a young man who was a friend of the family.

On previous visits, this young man would get angry when Kim would pray with the family. But this time he turned to Kim and asked "Who is God?" He told her not to give him any fluffy emotional feel-good stories -- just the FACTS. Kim almost started to cry when she realized that her recent adventure in apologetics had nothing to do with that philosophy class -- this was the moment that God had been preparing her for, and she proceeded to share all the information she'd studied. The young man was moved and told her he didn't know she was capable of such an intellectual, factual approach. He wept, his face in his hands. Kim says that to this day she doesn't know whether he came to the Lord, but she does know a fertile seed was planted that day.

So recently, when my friend Lynn told me about her plans for training, certification, grad school, then a specific career at a specific place, etc., etc., all very carefully scheduled and laid out, I just smiled. She was anxiously waiting to hear whether she'd been accepted to grad school and it seemed as if she has hit a roadblock and things may not go quite as she had hoped and planned. I told her I had seen this sort of thing before! God is no doubt preparing her for something, and He will use her, but it may not be in exactly the way she has planned. This is why I've learned not to panic when things don't go according to MY plan -- because GOD'S plan always works out and is so much better than mine anyway! These repeated lessons have convinced me of His Hand in ALL things and have taught me that I can trust Him absolutely!

Just another example of ...........
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

1 comment:

  1. So for today it was God's plan to bring here to find you Erin. Thank you for the reminder that his plan is always there and we only have to listen, he has laid out the path for each of us.