when plans change

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road before me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.”

There are times when God steps in and, in an instant, jumbles the plans that He seemed to have orchestrated so perfectly beforehand. Yet, with the sudden confusion comes an overwhelming peace that says, “Yes, this has been My plan all along.”

It happened the moment I received a letter of rejection from my top choice university, and immediately announced “I’m going to live on a ship in Africa.”

And the time I woke up at midnight the night before the annual college acceptance day to leave my enrollment form on the kitchen counter with a note saying, “I’m going to Wheaton College. I need a check for $400.”

It happened the day I went to meet with a professor, where I dropped the very program that brought me to Wheaton. I called my parents saying “Hey, you know how I only came to Wheaton because I wanted to do HNGR. Well, I’m now an anthropology major and I’m going to study in Tanzania next year instead.”

It happened last March when I took a spring break trip to Boston. Upon graduation, I’d planned to live with a close friend of mine. But when we arrived back at school for our last quarter of classes, I took her out for coffee and told her that I couldn’t stay. She smiled and said she already knew; she was just waiting for the Lord to tell me.

To the outside observer, and even to those who know me best, it might appear that I have a knack for making sudden life decisions without much thought. But I assure you, each and every one of these changes of plans has not been made without floods of tears, pangs of anxiety, and hours of prayer (usually the praying is done by the people who witness my tears of anxiety, and in the Lord’s mercy He confirms His plan to me once I finally dry my tears and turn to Him). So here I am, living in Boston, with a degree in anthropology from Wheaton College, having lived on a ship in Africa where I first decided I wanted to be a chef.

I thought that God’s gear shifting had come to an end when I moved to Boston to study pastry. The multiple reroutes of the previous four years seemed to finally come together as I discovered a unique way to blend my varying interests. Yet, with a congratulatory e-mail from Sallie Mae confirming the acceptance of my student loan application, my stomach dropped and I knew that once again, God was asking me to trust Him and step into another unknown direction.

In all honesty, I have had my fears about making the financial commitment to study pastry for several months now. I’ve applied to various positions whose job descriptions did not interest me, but whose salaries proved quite tempting. I’ve looked at pastry programs around the country, amazed at the expense of the northeast. I considered an internship in Uganda, and I questioned whether to even leave Chicago. But time and again, I’ve been comforted by a knowledge that the Lord has never failed to provide for me financially and a surety that I was heading in the direction He was leading.

So when I looked in shock at the requested interest rate, when my eyes bulged at the projected monthly payments, and when my hand scrolled with trepidation to press the “accept” button, I was both surprised and relieved to once again feel the Lord’s firm guidance saying “No, this is not My plan for you.” And in that instant, the plans I’d been arranging for the past twelve months were once again turned upside down.

A degree in culinary arts is not necessary to succeed in the culinary profession, yet the prospect of attending was the catalyst for me to move to Boston and begin working as a cook in a fine dining restaurant. The tutelage of the chef I am training under now is providing me with an invaluable education for which I do not have to pay, and I plan to begin working at another bakery soon as well. Hopefully, continued education will be an option for me in the near future, but for now I am excited to see the ways that the Lord uses my new financial freedom to allow me different ways of exploring the intersection of faith, food, and culture. I recognize that I would not even be in the house, city, or job that I am now if I had not been planning to attend culinary school until this very last minute. God is funny in the ways He teaches us to trust in Him.

As I navigate through God’s newly revealed plan for me, I echo the prayer of Thomas Merton:

“I do not see the road before me. I do not know for certain where it will end…
But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this You will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.”