I remember the night well. It was New Years Eve 2014. The clock had struck midnight and we were back at our apartment with some of our best friends. We each poured our drink of choice and stood on the furniture to usher in the shining new year with declarations of what would be. With glasses raised high and voices loud, we agreed that 2015 would be the year we would see dreams come true. I remember watching Mark as he said, “This year I’m declaring a new job, a better job!”
We all let out a joy-filled “Amen!” and clinked away.
Fast forward to two days later, on January 2, 2015, when I missed a phone call from Mark. I was walking to the elevator of my friend’s building when I listened to his voicemail.
“Hey. Can you please call me back as soon as you can?”
Please. That please struck me as odd, out of place. We don’t really do pleases in voicemails. I rode down the elevator to the first floor wondering what could be up. Walking out of the building and crossing the street to my car, I called him back. I’m pretty sure he picked up before the phone even finished its first ring.
“Hi.” He sounded short, quiet in his response.
“Hey,” I replied. “What’s up? Are you okay?”
“No. I’m not.”
“Okay…what’s going on?” I figured the sooner he told me, the sooner I could fix it.
“Well, I lost my job. I just left.”
My body swelled with emotion. Opening my car door, I’m sure I made one of those totally confused faces as if to say, “I think I misheard you.” But before I could reply asking him to repeat himself he capped it off with, “I’m done. Box packed up and I’ve walked out. It’s effective immediately.”
“Whatttttt?” I trailed off. I was so confused. He had gone to work that morning in an effort to get some extra work done before we got on the road that afternoon for a belated Christmas with his family.
Both of us were totally blindsided and unable to process what in the world was happening.
“Where are you?” I asked.
“I’m just driving now, not sure where to go. I may call some people to see if anyone’s free to meet.”
Good, I thought. Trusted voices to help us navigate this news sounds like what we need. However, no one ended up being available and Mark headed to mass at a local Catholic Church, one of the only places open for visitors on a Friday afternoon.
Today I laugh thinking back to that day, not because it’s funny but because it’s such evidence that our life is scripted by a hand much greater than our own. And the plans God has are so intentional. We never saw that day coming and it took us a long time to come to grips with what had happened.
I also laugh because we had just spent the last five days going through Michael Hyatt’s “Best Year Ever” and Mark losing his job less than 48 hours into our new year was definitely not part of the plan. 2015, our year for a fresh start after a tiring 2014, had taken its first hit before we had ever written the dang number on a piece of paper.
Later that same afternoon I told a friend, “This right here is the irony of faith.” What I meant was that despite the best dreaming and planning, things rarely play out their course the way we’ve plotted. Dreaming is a beautiful practice of awakening our faith and soaring higher than reality would allow. But while dreaming ignites, it does not guarantee.
So often in faith, to reap the greater harvest, the best-year-yet kind of manifestation, the pathway is humility, getting on our knees, letting things die, and finding ourselves more dependent than ever before.
I know that our story is not unique. All the time the unexpected disturbs. Despite best intentions, things do not go as pictured. So the question is, what do we do when God completely interrupts what we’ve carefully planned and hoped for? What’s our response when the answer to our prayers takes us in the exact opposite direction of where we’re trying to head? And how do we deal with disappointment, frustration, and total confusion?
Stick around this week. We’ll talk about how to navigate the unexpected when God interrupts our best plans.
Photo credit: Marcus Spiske