“The best-laid schemes o’ mice a’ men gang aft agley” wrote Robert Burns in the poem, “To a Mouse”, which countless Scottish school children have attempted to learn. His point is well made. Our human plans, no matter how well laid down, bump up against reality and go awry.
As Woody allen put it: “if you want to make God laugh, show him your plans”. Life seldom works out as we imagine it to. That can be a source of great distress and disappointment to us. No less so in this season when so many of our plans have been derailed: from holidays to health, family gatherings to business strategies nothing looks like we could ever have imagined back in January. Coming to terms with an unexpected turn in our path is something that we are all having to deal with.
Many of us imagined that the lockdown measures would be a brief interruption and that after a few weeks everything would go back to the way it was. Gradually it is dawning on us that we are experiencing a long-term shift in how we live. Coping with sudden, life-changing events once was the territory inhabited by people facing health or employment issues, now it’s all of us, at once. We want to set a course, plan for the future but even that is so dependent on unanswerable questions and unpredictable situations.
QPLive this week
This week on QPLive we will be exploring the theme – “when life fails to go as planned”. In Acts 1:1-8 the disciples appear to be buoyed by the resurrection. For sure, if you can beat death the world is your oyster. So now they are expecting Jesus to usher in the messianic kingdom: political power, spiritual revival and seats at the top table of authority and popularity for them.
Their expectation boils over, in Acts 1:6,7, with a question: “so are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel”.
Jesus’ answer is not what they expect, his plan is not their plan. Immediately their dreams must be recalibrated and their plans re-worked.
No doubt this will be true for each of us as we are forced to leave the old and begin to tentatively embrace, what people are beginning to call, the “new normal”. Though no one can tell you what this actually looks like.
Questions for Sunday
So here are some thoughts to consider as we head towards Sunday
What have I found helpful in times when I have had to give up a plan or dream?
How do I move from staring perplexed into the sky to preparing for a new obedience?
What am I learning about Gods plans and ways in this season?
Britain, ill-prepared and fearful was coming to terms with an unwelcome and threatening war. King George VI was to address the nation on Christmas Day. What could he say? Princess Elizabeth brought a poem to her father’s attention written by Minnie Louise Haskins. The words became history and they ring true for us today:
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand in the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”