In sitting down to write a note for this November newsletter, I had planned to write something totally different than what I now share. I happened to look out the kitchen window and see our eight-year-old grandson and the neighbor boy outside ready to jump into a big pile of leaves. They had gone out to play in the abundance of autumn leaves with the dog, who loved to chase them and roll in the leaves. But what caught my eye at this moment were these two young boys, watching the dog bounding toward them, only to stop in the middle of the pile of leaves and 'mark his spot' (You know what I mean!). The look on the faces of these boys was priceless. Trying to read their thoughts, I would guess was something like, 'Oh no, stop him!..... Too late!'. The dog went running off like nothing had changed. But for these two boys, everything had changed. At first they tried to find the 'marked spot', in order to remove those tainted leaves. When they realized that was impossible, they changed plans completely, and that particular pile of leaves was excluded.
I couldn't help but think how much of life is just like that. We plan our way, but then something unforeseen steps in and changes our plans, without our permission. Something or someone comes along and messes up our pile of leaves. All of our best laid plans are subject to God's approval, and we constantly have to weigh the options before us when our circumstances change. Those boys could have chosen to jump and roll in that pile of leaves anyway, but wisdom won out and they avoided doing what would bring some unpleasant consequences. Life is full of interruptions and detours, both small and large, but in all of them, we have the assurance that God is sovereign, and calls us to use His Word and wisdom to guide us. Proverbs 16:9 notes, "The mind of a person plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps." What a wonderful assurance God gives us, that He is directing our steps. God often does this through circumstances. Every circumstance that is beyond our control, is still under His control. What we can't control, we entrust to Him. What we can control, we subject to God's word and wisdom. It was this that led to Reinhold Niebuhr's famous serenity prayer from the 1930's, which was later modified for 12 step recovery programs: "O God, give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed, the courage to change what can be changed, and the wisdom to know the one from the other." What a wonderful way to walk through life, with the assurance of God's sovereignty for things outside our control, and His guidance for things we can control. That is something to be thankful for. Have a great November!