When All Your Plans Go South

I would love to tell you that Africa is warm and sunny and amazing. I’m sure it is.

But I’m in New York. Still. So all I remember from last night is -5 degrees, biting wind, numb fingers, and waiting for a Hampton Inn van. See, we packed summer clothes. All we had were t-shirts and thin zip ups. And we couldn’t find our luggage anyway.

See, JetBlue had a 2-hour delay and once we arrived in New York, we had already missed our international flight.

We tried to keep high spirits. We made jokes. After all, it was only 11pm. Surely we’d find a solution before midnight.

But what do you do when “surely” doesn’t happen? What do you do with 2am mind fog and angry people all around you and New Yorkers looking at you like you’re an idiot and unforgiving, sub-zero wind chill? What do you do when you wait and wait and wait until you can’t remember anything before all the waiting?

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Let’s just say the “power of positive thinking” wasn’t working. We may have been in the foreign land of the North, but all our plans had gone South. Like, royally South.

This was the plan: Raleigh > New York > Turkey > Uganda > South Sudan.

The people in Uganda were banking on us being there at a certain time. They had a little tiny plane waiting to take us to South Sudan. A plane that only flies at certain time since the area is so unpredictable.

Our plan wasn’t evil. It seemed good in our eyes.

It reminded me of Paul’s missionary journey when he made rational decisions on what seemed like the best plan of action for his team:

Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas (not the bad Judas!)…it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ….However, it seemed good to Silas to remain there.
(Acts 15: 22, 25, 33)

If the most renown missionary in human history made plans on what seemed good regarding his trips, then surely making good plans isn’t bad.

Unless you put all your hope in them. Unless your reaction to all your plans going south reveals that you can’t stand being out of control. Unless those plans make you forget God and His plans for you.

The apostle Paul made good plans. But sometimes God interrupted His plans and redirected his course. Just one chapter after Paul’s carefully made plans, God reroutes him:

6 Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. 7 Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. 8 So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas.
(Acts 16: 6-8)

And this is where I find my hope. God is guiding us. And we make plans rationally and most of the time, He blesses those plans. But if He has something better, or if He is protecting us somehow from the route we would have chosen, we choose to trust Him. We choose to believe He has a reason for the routes that He puts in place.

Thankfully God is not prohibiting us from entering the country of South Sudan. He just chose a different route to get us there. And we wait on Him. We wait to see what He has planned. And I will just eat some M&Ms and write to you as His plan unfolds.

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Pray for us. We are tired, but we trust our Father. We only had about 4 hours of sleep, but we thankfully have a 10 hour flight to catch up on sleep. Pray for us to be able to get from Uganda to South Sudan. Right now we are looking at a 12 hour drive because we missed the original plane that was scheduled to pick us up. Pray another flight would be able to take us so we don’t have to drive 12 hours on unpaved roads. Regardless, we will weather this.

Just to let you know, our current plan is this: Raleigh > New York > Johannesburg, South Africa > Uganda > South Sudan

Oh, and here’s something that will make you feel better.  Due to an 8-month pregnant angel in JetBlue baggage claim, our bags were found and returned to us at 1 o’clock  in the morning. So we got to check them on the new plane we are taking. God walks with us and helps us in our frustrations. He doesn’t always protect us from frustration, but He walks with us through it. He grows us up. He helps us deal with life head-on. He does not shield us from reality. He develops our heart to trust Him in the midst of reality. He is a good, good Father and he matures His children how He sees fit. He will fly with us today as we sleep in the air, and thankfully, He’s not a God that goes off the clock or gets tired. He will not sleep while we do. He promises to watch over us and our plans.

 He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.
The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.
(Psalm 121:3-5, 8)
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Wendy says:

You guys are awesome. May our sovereign God keep you comforted until you reach your destination and return.safely home. We’re praying for you on the home front!