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Raphael
Used with permission of www.christusrex.org.

SPIRITUALITY

When God Changes the Script

By Katrina J. Zeno
Sometimes our plans in life fall apart, but even the biggest changes are a part of God’s plan.


Catholic Focus -

Life never develops in quite the way we want. Even people who seem to have perfect lives still have to deal with things that disrupt or even devastate their carefully laid plans. However, these things don’t have to crush us, as long as we understand that there is a bigger plan involved, and the hand of God is still guiding our lives.

Have you ever noticed that nobody gets the life they signed up for? I’ve talked to hundreds of women who enviously look at other women and think these women have the life they signed up for—they have the "perfect" marriage or job situation or family mix; they never feel lonely or isolated or snowed under; they always look cheerful, full of energy, and ready to volunteer.

Wrong.

If we scratch beneath the surface, we’ll most likely find dreams that died, expectations that were modified, and losses that were sustained. Take my friend Leslie. Leslie graduated from college in 1987, worked as a nanny in France, and was still single at age 27. Obviously, it’s not the end of the world to be single at 27, but if you’d planned to be married and having children by 23, sometimes it can feel like you missed God’s plan.

However, in God’s providence, Leslie met a handsome, concert pianist and wedding bells soon chimed. Within a year, a son was born, and, 17 months later, another son. Baby stuff, diapers, and first smiles reawakened her original expectations for marriage and children. Then Leslie experienced a miscarriage, and another, and a third in which she almost bled to death. Suddenly, the script changed. Instead of the half-dozen children Leslie had hoped for, she and her husband had to avoid pregnancy just so she didn’t die. To the outside world, her life looked ideal: a beautiful brick house, two healthy, handsome boys, and a loving, talented husband. On the inside, Leslie had to adjust to a changed script, to the forced downsizing of her family, to the loss of children she would never have.

But Leslie is in good company. The Bible is full of men and women who experienced a changed script. Take Abraham, for example. He probably never planned to leave Ur of the Chaldeans and go to an unknown land.  I’m sure he and Sarah never planned to be barren, and I don’t think a "vacation" in Egypt was on his top 10 list. But without God intervening to change the plan, Abraham wouldn’t have been the father of the Hebrew nation, nor would Sarah have had any children. Precisely what wasn't in the plan was what God used to birth the Hebrew people.

And look at Gideon—he was innocently beating out wheat in a winepress when the angel of the Lord commissioned him to lead Israel in battle. This was such a drastic change in plans that Gideon wanted to be sure:  he put a fleece before the Lord and asked him to make the fleece wet while the ground was dry. God did. With this assurance, Gideon led 300 men into battle and was victorious.  As a result, God’s plan, not man’s, was advanced.

Then there is the Moabite Ruth, who married a foreigner, a man from Bethlehem. As a young girl, she certainly didn’t dream of marrying a Hebrew! On top of that, her husband died, leaving her as a young, destitute widow. Right then Ruth could have cut her losses, returned to her mother’s house, and started over again. But she didn’t. She continued with the life she didn’t sign up for—she traveled with her mother-in-law back to Bethlehem where she eked out a living by picking up leftover grain. Through these circumstances, she met and married another Israelite, Boaz, and became the great-grandmother of King David.

The list of Old Testament changed scripts goes on: Joseph never intended to be sold as a slave, jailed in Egypt, or serve Pharaoh. Hosea wouldn’t have dreamed of taking a prostitute for a wife without God’s command. David planned to watch sheep all his life until the Lord anointed him king. Esther found herself queen of Persia where she interceded to save the Israelites from extermination.

These stories are but a preparation for the greatest script change of all: the Annunciation. In an instant, Mary’s entire life changed. Whereas she intended to remain childless for the greater glory of God, she found herself "with child." Instead of sharing the intimacies of birth with her mother and relatives, she shared them with Joseph, cows, and shepherds. The joy of consecrating her newborn son to God was interrupted by Simeon’s prophecy of sorrow. As a new mother, she fled her homeland and was forced to raise her infant son in a foreign land.

And that was only the beginning.

The rest of Mary’s life—and Peter’s and John’s and Mary Magdalene’s and Paul’s—testifies constantly to a changed script. God conceived new possibilities and changed the course of history through them. The same can be true of us. Instead of getting angry, bitter, or hardhearted when God changes the script of our lives, we should be hope-filled, encouraged, inspired. Maybe we didn’t plan to be single at 40, or go back to work at 55, or struggle with an eating disorder or depression, but God has it already worked into His plan. He’s the one writing the script. He’s the one with the master plan.

Copyright © 2000 Katrina J. Zeno


Katrina welcomes your comments. Email her at tangohio@aol.com.





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