“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9
Have you ever concocted a plan so clever, so life changing and fool proof over a glass (or two) of wine with a friend or sitting on the sidelines watching your children play soccer? Certainly nothing could possibly go wrong. “Why didn’t we think of this sooner?” you ask each other. “We are definitely going to change the world with this mighty idea of ours.”
Plans dreamt, dreams squashed
I am a planner. If you need to get a group organized and informed, I am your girl. If you need a schedule made, agenda created, and calendar kept, call me. Yet, jumping off into the unknown with a new idea, I am a big fat chicken! In my life, the more I plan, concoct, analyze, weigh the outcomes, and factor all possible failures, the more likely the idea will fizzle and go down in smoke. I have a knack for overthinking or planning the crap out of an idea. I want to make sure I don’t risk failure or embarrassment. However, I know that without trying and risking, growth cannot occur. Resisting the urge to overthink has been a huge hurdle for me.
As we prepare ourselves for another season of “Tour de Pier”, a friend recently asked me how this fundraiser began. Who would have had the crazy vision to set up 300 stationary bikes facing the Pacific Ocean, and convince 1,500 people to ride as a team for five hours: peddling to nowhere, racing against no one, and raising over 2 million dollars in the process?
A chance meeting, a divine appointment
Spring Break 2012: Kory had been diagnosed with Glioblastoma (GBM) 10 months prior and was in the process of treatment, fighting the fight, conquering the cancer. The family knew that the prognosis was a death sentence and that he initially was given 6 months to a year to live. Time was not on our side, so we planned a family vacation to the happiest place on the Hawaiian Islands, the Disney owned resort, Aulani.
As we all enjoyed the beautiful surroundings, celebrating life, another family had the same plans for a tropical vacation. The Hirschberg family, also from the South Bay but unknown to us, occupied the neighboring cabana at the kiddie pool. The dad, Jon, had lost his father to pancreatic cancer a few years prior, and he and my brother in law, Heath, immediately hit it off, finding common interests in business and sports.
The idea for Tour de Pier was born from a chance meeting at the kiddie pool in Hawaii. Heath and Jon continued with their dream of a fundraiser based on a mutual love of cycling and common focus on cancer research. It was a “build it and they will come” phenomena. A year later, the first Tour de Pier fundraiser launched with unimaginable success.
Looking back on the story, the countless hours of planning, organizing and hard work cannot be discounted, but the chance meeting that set the idea into motion cannot be denied for what it was, a true divine appointment. A divine appointment is a meeting with another person that has been specifically and unmistakably ordered by God.
I can look back now at times in my life when people happened to drop in at just the right moment, connections were made, or help was given. I used to think that these occurrences were just coincidence, but now I realize that they are much much more.
The time I fell from a rope swing and shattered my ankle and leg: A group of five young college men emerged on the hiking trail just as it had happened and carried me out to the street where my husband had run ahead to get the car.
The time I locked my keys in my car: Panicked that I did not know anybody where I was headed to ask for help, only to look up and find that my best friend was parked next to me.
The little boy who had suffered sudden and severe mobility issues that doctors could not figure out the cause just happened to be in my son’s preschool class: After a conversation with his grandmother and a quick call to our neurologist, he was diagnosed with he same form of cancer and rare neurologic disorder as my son. There are about 14 cases in the United States a year, and two happen to be in the same class of 12 students!
My list could go on for days. So much more than coincidence. I am not a math, statistics or numbers person, but I would bet that the probability that all of these coincidences happening by chance would be ZERO.
If God provides these meetings or intersections with other people to help us in our time of need, imagine what is possible when we step into the plans that God lays on our hearts. Not our scheming soccer sideline plan, the wine induced concoction, or even the super well thought out, no room for failure, I planned the crap out of it, brainchild.
No, I am talking about those proposals that seem to come out of the blue or when we least expect them, but we know that it is the right direction, the correct decision. We feel it in our hearts. We may sense that others will question our sanity, but it may be the exact right path we are being called to travel.
Be observant and listen carefully
It could be an unexpected offer. Like being asked if I would be interested in being my children’s school librarian only three months after my husband’s death, when the idea of going back to work had not even entered my consciousness. I had teaching experience but no library background, had not even volunteered in the library. Taking the job saved my life, gave me purpose and has kept me sane at least four days out of each week.
Stepping onto the path.
It could be an innocent question. When are you going to write again? To be honest I never thought of my self as a writer or had any plans to write, but apparently another path was being laid. A well timed link was forwarded to me about a free online seminar for starting your own blog, and Beauty in the Brokenness was born.
Another step taken.
Perhaps it is a request you never anticipated. I wrote my last blog “Beautifully Broken” on a Wednesday night. The next day, Thursday, I received a request to share my latest poem and inspiration for it at a women’s event happening that Friday evening. Friday night I was up on stage speaking to 200 women. No time to overthink, no time to plan the crap out of anything, no time to trust myself.
I have chosen to keep walking on the path that is being laid.
It might be that chance meeting. An exchange of “crazy” ideas around a kiddie pool in Hawaii that others would call “impossible” but would raise almost two million dollars in the first three years for cancer research and support.
Perhaps the best laid plans are not ours at all. Perhaps they are the plans that have been paved for us by God that we choose to step onto, to journey down, and explore.