When I was in 6th grade, I remember sitting on my floor beside my bed with pen and paper, making out my timeline. I really grew up emotionally that year. I had come to realize that I would probably never marry Bobby Sherman or Davy Jones of the Monkees. (I might have had a slight hope with Mike Nesmith, since he was from Texas, but I didn't really want him.) I had realized that some people liked me and some didn't...mainly because of my optimistic outlook. Some people got it, and liked me. Some people didn't, and I became invisible to them because they thought I just didn't know as much as they did.
The Life Plan, my Timeline, looked something like this:
Age 18 Graduate from High School
Age 21 Graduate from College
Age 21 Begin career....maybe as a nurse or teacher
Age 22 Get married to nice, regular guy
Age 26 Have my first child, a boy, named Jason (of course)
Age 30 Have 2nd child, a girl, named Shannon Elizabeth
Ages 32 to 40 Have 4 additional children, with a total of 3 girls and 3 boys
Ages 6th Grade to 100 Live happily ever after!
That is some plan. And it looked very doable to me. I wasn't a Christian then, but I was a very good, sweet girl, so such a plan seemed perfect to me.
After I became a Christian at age 14, I lifted this same plan up to God and asked if He had any problem with it. Without waiting for an answer, I presented it in the form of a motion, seconded it, had some obligatory discussion with myself about it, then voted, and the motion did indeed carry into the by laws of my life with a voted of 1-0, with God abstaining. He could have voted no at any time, of course. But why would He? It was reasonable. It was well thought out. It put my education first. It included love and children, six of them! What kind of a problem could He have with that?
I had no idea that, just perhaps, God was smarter than me. He could see that the optimism in me needed to become joy, which requires hardship, victory, and failure. He could see that I would marry a month before my 19th birthday, and have to push myself to get out of college in 3 1/2 years. He could see that I would never become a nurse, nor would I ever become a school teacher. Instead, He desired for me to become a Pastor's wife, for which He had prepared me my whole life. He could see that my first child would a boy alright. But his name was to be Zachary Mason, knowing that a mason is a builder with stone and brick...he builds things that last and stand the test of time. He knew our second child would be another son named Samuel, after the grandfather Jon never knew but loved by reputation. And God knew that He would give us our girl, Barbara Hayley Elizabeth (we did get the Elizabeth in there), but at age 29, He took away the ability for me to have anymore. He didn't ask me...He just did it.
The "Ever After" part has been happily spent, but other emotions have been added to the bowl and mixed in well...sadness, poverty, death; success, singing, pleasure; hummus, enchiladas, haggis. It would not have looked very attractive on a timeline, that's for sure. But it is my life, nonetheless.
Go ahead, make your intricate timelines. Tell God your expectations. Present your 20 Year Long Term Goals, written in pen.
"....And God laughs...."