“We can’t see the road ahead, so we must take it as it comes, not as we wish it would be” (Our Daily Bread, 10/20/16).
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” – Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 6:34 (The Message)
Every year my husband and I spend weeks getting ready for our annual weeklong fall camping trip. Dean works on the camper and the truck, and packs the man things (tools and that kind of stuff), while I plan our destination, route, activities, and meals, as well as clean the camper and pack all the food and clothes.
This year, I spent the three days prior to our departure preparing meals for 10 days on the road so that all we’d have to do was “heat and eat.”
My plan was to read, relax, and recharge, so I crammed a large tote bag with the stack of magazines and books I’d saved to read, and downloaded several novels on my Kindle. I envisioned myself reading while Dean drove, and spending hours plopped in a chair by the campfire, lost in a world of words.
And since we both love to hike, I researched the trails in the areas where we’d be camping.
The plan was to spend a weekend at a campground in Fancy Gap, Va., with our daughter, Jaime, and her family, then drive to Michigan to visit our son, who’d moved there at the end of last year.
So, did everything go according to plan?
Of course not.
First, there was the drenching rain for the first two days, thanks to Hurricane Matthew. But not to worry. I’d packed plenty of games, and our campsite had cable TV.
But when sun finally came out on Sunday, I couldn’t go hiking with Dean, Jaime, and Adam because I had to keep my leg elevated for 24 hours. I’d stumbled into the metal step to the camper Saturday evening, which warranted a trip to the ER 20 miles away and seven stitches.
Then, there was road fatigue.
Whatever was I thinking when I planned the trip? By the end of the two-day drive from Virginia to Michigan—on roads we were totally unfamiliar with—I was road weary, cranky, and sore. Since the route we took was new, I couldn’t enjoy the sights or read. I had to be the navigator. It’s a wonder we’re still married.
We did have a lovely campsite along the lazy Maple River in Michigan—and, because our stay was through the week during the fall, we had the campground to ourselves. But there weren’t any trails to hike. And even if there had been, we couldn’t have gone because Dean’s knee, which he wrenched at the end of August, was too painful.
On Sunday morning, we headed for Pennsylvania in a downpour, arriving home nine hours later—after 10 days, five states, and 1,880 miles.
Was I disappointed in the trip?
Not at all. I’ve learned the difference, you see, between plans and expectations. A plan is a detailed scheme about what you want (or plan) to do. An expectation, on the other hand, is a belief you’ll achieve something.
See the difference? We planned our trip and prepared for it, but I didn’t set any expectations. I let the trip unfold before us, moment by moment—and the unexpected became an adventure of discovery instead of a disappointment.
On the journey of life, I’ve learned, if you want to be happy, don’t expect anything, except to expect God to work His sovereign will in your life. Plan, prepare, pray—then leave the rest in His hands.
Thank You, Father, that You travel with us on this journey called life. Amen.