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The-Time-Nothing-Went-According-to-Plan

The Time Nothing Went According to Plan

Written By Ana Chavarria, USA

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”—Romans 8:28

This is a verse many Christians know by memory. I have known this verse since I was a little girl but never took it seriously. I just kept telling everyone that God had a purpose for everything. That was my way of comforting anybody who was worried or stressed. But the reality was they were empty words—I didn’t really live by them.

It was not until a month ago that I really understood that verse. “All things work together for good” didn’t mean that everything was going to be good. Some things that happen in life can be and will be bad. But ultimately, everything (both bad and good) will work out according to God’s purposes and for our good.

The day I learned that lesson started at 3 a.m.. My boyfriend Ramon and I were going to Puerto Rico to visit his family; we were really excited to escape the cold in USA and get some warm weather. We reached the airport on time and were waiting to board the plane when an announcement was made that the flight was delayed. After waiting for three hours, we knew we would miss our connecting flight to Puerto Rico.

Then it got worse. We were told that our flight was going to be delayed even more—till the next day. Now, we were very upset. We had been so focused on having things go a certain way that we didn’t know how to handle the change.

We complained to the airline and its staff took 40 minutes to find us another flight. This would arrive in Puerto Rico at 5 p.m., six hours past the original slated time. By then, we were tired and hungry, and just wanted to rest on a clean bed. So we decided to wait one more hour to board the next plane instead of flying the next day.

The flight took almost four hours. Thirty minutes before landing in Puerto Rico, Ramon suddenly told me that he felt pain on the left side of his face. Initially, I thought it was just a temporary thing. But the pain worsened and it reached a point where Ramon couldn’t even talk.

Fortunately, the flight attendant was sitting right in front of us. I quickly told her that we had an emergency. The crew made a call to the ground support staff, so that they would have an ambulance ready to take us to the nearest hospital when we landed.

As soon as we landed, I called Ramon’s parents and told them what had happened. They immediately rushed down and waited with us for the ambulance to arrive. My heart was racing, but I tried to remain calm and answer the questions by the paramedics about Ramon’s condition. I remember thinking to myself, “What a day! All is going wrong! Why did he end up in the hospital? Why is this happening, God?” Deep down, I knew that he was going to be fine, but I just wanted to hear it from the doctors.

After five long hours of waiting, we had a diagnosis from the doctors. Ramon had been sick for the last few days; he was doing better but was still very congested from the cold, which had turned infectious. Apparently, when we started to descend, the pressure in the airplane was too much for him to handle; the infection had caused the severe pain in his face. The doctors gave him some medicine and told us that it was nothing serious. That night, we arrived home really late, at almost 2 a.m.. I was exhausted but thankful and relieved that Ramon was okay.

The next morning, Ramon and I slowly recounted the previous night’s events over breakfast. We both realized that the pain on his face was going to happen at some point because of his infection. But because our flight got delayed, our seats were moved to the row right in front of the flight attendant, where we could get help right away. If we had been on our original flight, we would have been sitting in the very last row and wouldn’t have had been able to get help so quickly. We were amazed at how God had moved everything so that we could get help on time. We thanked God and told our family how He had taken control of every single detail.

Sure, it was a tough day. Nothing had gone according to plan. But I can say with full confidence that ultimately, everything worked together for good.

There are going to be times in our lives when everything seems perfect. But change happens; circumstances are going to shake us. That’s when we need to tell ourselves, “Yes, it’s a bad situation and it’s probably going to get worse. But it’s not the end.” God does not forget us. He uses the bad moments to shape us to be more like Christ and bring us to a place where we wouldn’t have been otherwise.

Through this experience, God put my faith to test, so that I could learn to trust and believe that He has control over everything. Now if something bad happens, I will immediately remember this moment—when God showed me that He always has a purpose with everything that happens.

So let’s trust Him wholeheartedly. He is a good Father in the midst of our pain.

Does-God-Have-a-Blueprint-For-Our-Lives

Does God Have a Blueprint For Our Lives?

Written By Constance Opoku, Ghana

If you want a 21st-century snapshot of the tower of Babel, you should visit Belgium’s Brussels Airport. I recently had a short layover there while on my way home from a trip abroad.

At the airport, I realized something: loads of flights en route to Africa were coming through it. As I sat waiting for my flight to be called, I couldn’t help but notice lots of people around me who looked like me. That was in sharp contrast to the country I had just left, where I stood out.

A couple of hours into my wait, I saw a woman approaching me. The expression on her face said she was lost. Recognizing the patterned fabric of the clothes she was wearing, I was close to certain she was a fellow Ghanaian and would thus be on my flight. And then she opened her mouth.

Boy was I wrong! The language barrier told me that we were on very different itineraries. I made a feeble attempt to help by pointing to the TV screen showing the flight schedules, but they were in English and I don’t think that helped much. Eventually, she identified someone who was on her flight and who spoke her language, and was able to help her get in the right line. Whew!

Then it hit me: One, it takes enormous planning and organization by an airport and the various airlines that serve it to make sure that everyone ends up on the right flight. Two, we really can’t assume that just because someone has something in common with us, they are on the same trajectory we are.

I’ve felt like that sometimes with God, wondering how He could have a custom-tailored plan for my life shuffled in with His many kids. I’ve looked at someone else’s life, thought their journey similar to mine, and freaked out because I’ve been afraid that I was going to end up just like they had.

But God is not into mass production.

Brussels airport has an organized plan for every traveler to ensure they board the right plane. God has a beyond-detailed plan, tailor-made for each of His children. That blueprint is so good that we can’t wrap our minds around it (Psalm 40:5).

When I got home, our camaraderie as fellow passengers on the same plane ended the moment we passed through immigration and grabbed our bags. Some headed for a 20-minute drive home, while those who were going to other destinations the next day stayed back in the capital. I had a 45-minute flight to catch to get to my home city, then a 20-minute drive before I could finally open my door and plonk myself on my own sofa. Regardless of united we seemed to be on our journey back to Ghana, we eventually went our separate ways, taking distinct paths on our journeys in life.

If Brussels Airport can plan a few hours for me to make sure I’m on the right track, God is definitely able to plan a few decades of my life to ensure the same.

It’s easy to feel forgotten sometimes. We may wonder if in the grand scheme of things, we really count. But we can look to a God who is a gazillion times more organized and more concerned about our paths than we could ever imagine.

He’s not just watching us; He’s amending things and straightening roads just to make sure we get home.

Confessions-of-a-Single-Guy

Confessions of a Single Guy

Written By Aryanto Wijaya, originally in Bahasa Indonesia

“When I was a child, I saw adults dating. When I became an adult, I saw children dating.”

I laughed when I saw these words on a meme while scrolling through Instagram. I knew exactly what the meme was talking about. Many of my friends started dating in high school, but I have remained single throughout college and even after I’ve started working.

I was raised in a broken family, and had trouble with my self-confidence. I was not rich, could not play any musical instruments, or do sports. So I figured I was only an ordinary guy and would not be anyone’s ideal type. Though I had fallen in love with several different girls in the past, I was usually too nervous to tell them. I often thought that if I told a girl that I loved her, it would ruin our friendship. Instead, I kept my feelings to myself, and just remained friends.

Eventually, in college, I fell in love with my best friend. We went to the same Christian youth fellowship every Tuesday night. We prayed together, hung out, and shared burdens. I finally told her how I felt towards her a few months before graduation. But she said she didn’t want to date, and preferred to remain best friends. I respected her decision. We are still good friends today even though we have since gone our own separate ways after graduation.

Not having a girlfriend, however, does not mean that my life is any less worthwhile. In the same way, my life would not always be better if I had a girlfriend. I have often listened to brokenhearted friends share about their breakups.

I’m happy being single at the moment. Though there are times I feel lonely, I’m learning to channel my emotions and energy during such moments towards meaningful activities.

 

I travel and write a travel blog.

I love to travel. During my four years of college in Yogyakarta, an Indonesian city, I travelled perhaps half of Indonesia, from westernmost Sabang Island to the northern city of Manado. Once, I even spent 30 days travelling across the island of Sumatra with a German friend.

Travelling is a way for me to meet people. I make a lot of friends while travelling, especially through my couch surfing community. And when my new friends express curiosity about my faith, it becomes a great opportunity to share about Jesus with them.

Travelling also reminds me that God always provides. For example, I was working as a student staff at my university which gave me the opportunity to travel throughout Indonesia to promote our school to high school students. And when I travelled with other backpackers, they often paid for my accommodation.

I enjoy writing about my travels and sharing my thoughts and experiences with other people. I believe that God is using my skills and interests to enrich my life, and hopefully the lives of others. What has He been doing in your life?

 

I spend time and energy loving my family and friends first.

I believe that when I learn to love and be content with what God has already given me, He will give me new responsibilities in His own time. Jesus told us that “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)

I believe God wants me to use this stage of singleness to love my friends and family—and He uses this to enrich my life and theirs. I’ve learned to empathize with the problems my loved ones face and be a better listener.

Twice a month, I go back to my hometown to visit my family. I recognize that my parents are getting older so I make it a point to let them know how special they are to me and buy them food. I also spend time keeping in touch with my friends through phone calls and weekend visits. Because I do not have to coordinate my schedule with a girlfriend or wife, I have time to listen to my loved ones’ problems, encourage them, pray with them, and hang out with them.

If you’re at the same stage life as me, why not consider how to use this time to be a blessing to those around you?

 

I often like to say that I don’t need a soul mate because God created my soul complete. If and when God decides that it’s time for me to leave my singleness, He will naturally provide someone. What I need to do in the meantime is to focus on how God wants me to live my life to the fullest and bless others.

The completeness of someone’s life is not determined by whether he has a mate or not. God has already created us complete. Regardless of our relationship status, God has a good plan that He wants to accomplish through us.

Are you living a fulfilling life now?

 

Read “5 Ways to Become the Most Eligible Bachelorette” here.

When-Will-It-Be-My-Turn

When Will It Be My Turn?

Written By Jordan Lee, USA

You meet him—you know who I’m talking about. He’s the guy you’ve been dreaming of, the one you thought you’d never even talk to . . . and then he asks you on a date, a real date!

You hide the happy dance your heart is doing, fight back the squeal, and accept with pleasure. Within seconds, all your girls know and they’re offering their closets for you to peruse. You spend hours picking out the perfect outfit.

He picks you up at 7:00 a.m. sharp—not a minute early or a minute late, just like he promised. The date ends with a sweet kiss goodnight, a promise to call you tomorrow, and you dance to your room with a light heart and twinkle in your eye.

And then he actually calls the next day. The dates not only continue but soon he begins calling you the magic word. He begins calling you his—wait for it . . . girlfriend. Score! When you hear that word, it’s not scary or weird or uncomfortable like with the other guys. It sounds just right—fitting.

Eventually, he pops the question. You call your girls and inform the world with the perfect Instagram post and finally create that Pinterest wedding board. You ever so creatively ask your girls to be your maids, which they make known on Instagram, and they help you prep every detail of the big day like you’ve done for them.

Isn’t this how we want it to go? Isn’t this how we envision it as a little girl? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that this is an ideal but less than likely scenario.

Maybe you haven’t met your match. Maybe you’ve never had a boyfriend that sticks around. Maybe you’re frustrated because you’ve never even been asked on a date and all your friends are getting married and having the cutest babies ever. And maybe you believe that your life is a bummer. Maybe you’re sick of seeing everyone else fall in love. Maybe you’re wondering what’s wrong with you and when it’ll be your turn.

If that’s you, cool. I’d love to tell you that it’s going to happen for you soon. I’d love to tell you Mr. Right just got caught in traffic. I’d love to say the clichéd little phrase, “to find the right person, you have to become the right person.”

But I can’t.

I don’t know the future of your love life any more than you do. I don’t know the purpose of your current relationship status any more than you do. Only God knows if you’re supposed to meet Mr. Right and only He knows when it’ll be your turn.

But this isn’t about taking turns. Life and relationships aren’t a game and God isn’t skipping your turn when you feel like He is. The cold, hard truth is that there’s no cookie-cutter answer for your situation, and I think sometimes we like to put blanket statements on it because we all know being alone is hard.

But I’m not going to give you a magic solution or throw clichéd phrases on your life. Because as you step into yet another bridesmaid dress or fake a smile for another one of your friends in love whom you’re really trying to be happy for, I’d be willing to bet that those statements don’t help at all.

I’d rather remind you that there’s a reason God has you right where you are, that you’re appreciated, and that your current role is needed in big and mighty ways. You are needed as you are, right now, flying solo, individual, and independent.

I know it’s tempting and normal to step into a lonely pity party, but I dare you to own your loneliness instead of letting it own you. Don’t throw your heart walls up in protection or your hands up in surrender. Both are isolating and discouraging and you’re better than that.

When you feel like you’re losing hope, take a step back. Are you placing your hope in the ring or in the King?

Your character, your strengths, and your exact blend of humor, wit, and beauty are needed for something a lot bigger than Pinterest boards and wedding bells.

And maybe you just need to be reminded that the Prince of Peace sees that—even if a Prince Charming never does.

You are beloved by God and needed in this big world—with or without a plus one.

 

This article was originally posted on the writer’s blog here. This version has been edited by YMI.