When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan: Guest Post by Writer & Cartoonist Dave Hamlin
My novel, Catch a Falling Star, asks the question: Is life about accomplishing plans … or wishes coming true … or something more?
Today’s post is the eighth in the “When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan” Wednesday blog series, 11 guest posts by authors and writers, including Deborah Raney, Rachel Hauck, and Susan May Warren, who explore the question: What do you do when life doesn’t go according to plan? Today’s post is by my friend and brother-in-the Lord, Dave Hamlin.
Planning has never been my strength.
I’ve spent most of my life drifting, only changing course when pressed with the recurring question, “Now what?”
I’ve always wanted to serve God, but finding His particular will for me seemed like an unsolvable puzzle. Not knowing where God was leading specifically, I followed Him generally through college, marriage, a few kids, and a few jobs.
A decade ago, I began attending seminary while serving as a minister-in-training at a church in the Midwest. Then a crisis arose in the form of a leadership conflict, and the sparks ignited a powder keg. There was an explosion. And my life caught fire.
The place that my wife and I had called home for 20 years was suddenly engulfed in flames. We sold our house, packed up our seven kids, and drove our van out of town over burning bridges.
I discerned that God was moving us from the Midwest to Colorado Springs. But that’s all I knew.
So, I worked hard at making new plans. I labored at finding, not just the next thing, but the right thing, the thing that I was supposed to do with my life.
But the wildfire kept burning—unemployment, underemployment, business failure, loss after loss, year after year.
Yet through all the pain and loss, the Spirit was quietly doing a work of internal transformation in my heart. I was changing. God also formed wonderful new relationships that I might encounter Him in healthy spiritual community. In January of 2012, God visited me in a powerful healing encounter; for the first time in my life I knew my Heavenly Father loved me.
Life was new and different now. But circumstances were the same.
One morning, as I was driving a borrowed car from a rented house to a low-wage job, I thought about the wildfire. I was grieved that it was still burning. I thought to myself, “Every dream and every vague hope we brought with us to Colorado has gone up in flames.”
At that moment–as if in response to my private thoughts–the flickering flames in my imagination became a vision of a blazing wall of fire. My mourning was overwhelmed by a glowing warmth in my spirit. Somehow I understood the vision to be the fire of God’s holy, jealous love for me. It was as if God was saying to me, “I burned it all. In my holy love, I have consumed all of your dreams, all of your hopes, and all of your plans, so that I might give You my dream and fulfill My plans for you.”
Months later, on the first of January, God spoke to me through a passage in Isaiah. He declared that He is doing a new thing in my life. “Now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it?”
“Watch what I will do.”
So, I’m watching. Smoke continues to rise from the wildfire, but I’m watching, and waiting, for God’s new thing to unfold.
In Your Words: How do you respond when your plans and dreams go up in smoke? What offers you hope in the waiting?
Finding God when when plans fail … again and again and again. Click to Tweet
When life is different … but circumstances are the same. Click to Tweet
Dave Hamlin lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Shari, and their eight children. Dave’s second language is cartoon, and he speaks it fluently on his blog Drawing From Experience. Dave is waiting on God to write the words to the rest of his bio (sometimes patiently, sometimes not).