The Life We Live In Between the Life We Plan
Somewhere along the way I learned to define “life” as the things that happen between the events we plan. You know the times… you have your day planned, and then something goes, well, differently. You get interrupted. You receive unexpected news. Your priorities shift without warning, which means you may not get around to doing whatever you had considered so important when the day started. That definition of life has helped me many times keep a healthy perspective when the road gets a little bumpy.
There was the day we had a car at the mechanic and my husband and I each thought the other had made arrangements to pick up kids after school. But we hadn’t. Oops. There’s some life.
Another day we finally had an appointment we had waited months to get and had to reschedule three times, only to have a child come home sick from school the day of the appointment and cause us to need to rearrange things again. That was some life.
We had one year when we had to replace three or four major appliances, replace a car, and have surgery. Man, that felt like a lot of life that year.
And the day you get a diagnosis you didn’t see coming? That’s a whole lot of life coming at you hard and fast, and it lasts a lot longer than a day.
My examples of “life” make it sound like it’s always a bad thing, but I really don’t see it that way. It can rearrange your day – it can even rearrange your life – but it forces you to re-evaluate things, either short-term or long-term.
In Jeremiah 29, we see God giving the people of Judah instructions about how they are to live in exile in Babylon. God already explained why they will be there so long (they were unfaithful to Him). It stands to reason that they would be discouraged about being strangers and slaves in a foreign land. Now, however, God explains through Jeremiah how they can be proactive about their situation and see good come from it.
“Get married and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons, and let your daughters be married so they also may have sons and daughters. Have many children in Babylon; don’t become fewer in number. Also do good things for the city where I sent you as captives. Pray to the Lord for the city where you are living, because if good things happen in the city, good things will happen to you also. …You will be there for a long time, so build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat what they grow (Jeremiah 29:6-7, 28 NCV).”
Looking ahead to 70 years in Babylon must have seemed like a lot of “life” to the people of Judah. Nobody knowingly signed up for that trip. On a smaller scale, no one I know signed up for months of disruptions from a new virus. We didn’t plan this; it’s happening between the events we planned. What can we do proactively during this time? We can do the same things God told the people of Judah to do: keep living life, keep asking God for help, keep caring for the people and places around us.
Sometimes we just need little reminders to do those things when “life” comes our way. - Kathy Raines, Minister of Administration