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Friday, 6 February 2015

The best-laid plans ...!

The heading is, of course, from the poem by Rabbie Burns - To a Mouse, (1786). It tells of how he, while ploughing a field, upturned a mouse's nest. The resulting poem is an apology to the mouse, and the heading continues: "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley, [often go awry].  An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, for promised joy."

Those are words that have been much on my mind in recent days.  As I type (and, as an aside, I downloaded a 'secure' programme, a couple of evenings ago, in order to be able to open up a file sent by a fellow clergyman - and ended up with a totally unresponsive laptop.  I have spent a lot of the time since in refreshing the machine; downloading software available on the internet; and wishing that I had access to the software discs that are in the flat in Wishaw, while I am in the static in S.W.France!) we (my wife and I) are going through a difficult time with regards to the Lord's guidance.  Indeed, this has been the case for some months. 

The original 'plan' (ours!) was that the house in Motherwell would be sold by June 2014.  In a difficult housing market, this was to be the ultimate sign that we were in the Lord's will regarding our move to France.  That plan went well "a-gley"!  As many are aware, the house didn't sell until November - and we didn't have access to the funds until the latter half of January!   Of course, that was another part of the 'plan' that went "a-gley".  We received some £30k less than we had expected - and £45k less than the valuation!   The knock-on effect is, of course, a reduced number of euros available for a purchase here - even with the improved exchange rate!   That, in turn, means that we are experiencing some difficulty finding a suitable property in the greater Bergerac area, at a price that we can currently afford.  Indeed, we are already looking further afield, while still keeping an eye out for possibilities within that greater Bergerac area.

It's all to do with guidance.  I have been known, often, to say that what I want is a postcard delivered to me each morning.  That postcard would be postmarked "Heaven"; signed "Father God"; and would have a list of 'bullet-points' providing me with my 'guidance' for the day!   Regretfully, in His own wisdom and economy, Father God doesn't work like that!

So, how does He work?  I would suggest that He does so in a number of different, but complementary, ways.  What I wish to do must be in accordance with His written Word - the Bible.  In other words, I cannot say that I believe that the Lord is guiding me to rob a bank.  This is the same Lord Who, as we noted a few posts back, prohibits the taking of that which is not my own.  Secondly, it must be in line with the gifting with which He has provided me.  By that I mean that there it would be stupid of me to arrive at the A&E Department of a large hospital and inform them that the Lord had guided me to assist with emergency admissions!   Mind you, even if qualified, I would hope that proper checks would be made before I was allowed near to a patient!  Thirdly, I should take into account the counsel of trusted Christian friends, who know me, and who will pray the situation through with me.  Finally, I must take account of my personal circumstances.  By that, I mean that I would be foolish to think that the Lord was calling me to Japan.  My fluency in the French language may still leave a lot to be desired - but even basic knowledge of Japanese is totally foreign to me (no pun intended!).

Where does this leave us?   Well, we know that Father Good has a plan for our lives - individually, and as a couple.  We know that He is Sovereign over all that He has created.  Therefore we may trust Him to take us to where He wants us to be; in order that we may do what He wants us to do; at the time that He wants us to do it!   We are assured of His love, and His care.  Therefore, "we do not lose heart" (I Cor.4:1).

Perhaps you are going through a similar situation, in which all of your carefully-laid plans appear to be unravelling!  May I commend to you the same Father God?  Place your trust in Him to guide you through this present circumstance, and throughout your whole life.  That starts with the admission that you are, in His sight, a sinner; that there is nothing that, alone, you can do about that; that you deserve nothing but His wrath and punishment.  That, one might say, is the 'bad news'!  The Good News is that He has already, in the Persona (remember, that is not a typo!) of the Son, paid the penalty.  That means that His perfect justice is satisfied, by an act of His perfect love.  It means that you, and I, may accept that wonderful sacrifice, and we may go free!   Oh, and because that is God's plan, it never goes "a-gley"!

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