The Best Laid Plans

As the body without the Spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
James 2:26

Are you a planner? I am a planner. Ever since I was young, I wanted to plan, help others plan and be in charge of the plans! I guess there are other titles to that type of personality, but I would like to think of myself not as a control freak, but as one who would like to know what the end game is.

I thought I knew what the plan was for my life. I have always wanted the Lord to lead me in my decisions and never wanted to run down the road ahead of Him, but I always had that peace in life that I was in the center of His will. All the planning in the world changed course in January when my husband, Marc, suffered a heart attack while taking his daily walk in Washington Park. At that point, things changed in a way I could never have anticipated. I had always thought we would grow old together and enjoy each other's company until we went to Heaven…never to be separated! God had other plans.

Marc and I moved from Bellevue to Anacortes in June to enjoy this beautiful area within the comfort of retirement. We both had had demanding jobs for years and we had taken care of my 98 year old father in law for the last 10 years, so after his passing we thought it was our opportunity to move and to spend time with each other and experience the relaxation of what this area has to offer. On a very cold, windy afternoon everything changed and after being found by a stranger in the park, Marc was transported to Seattle where he fought for his life for 11 days at the University of Washington Medical Center. The plan continued to evolve dramatically when I was faced with removing life support from my husband of 52 years. Briefly, his life was in my hands. Marc was helpless, he had no say as to whether he was going to transition into eternity, but he trusted me to follow his wishes in the last moments of his life. I remember asking the doctors, what is the right thing to do? I asked my kids, what would you do? But the answer remained the same…Marc had trusted me with his life to make the decisions that were in accordance with his wishes. I knew I was going to have to dig deep into my faith to get me through what I was going to see and feel.

Faith is a somewhat overused and underappreciated word in the life of a believer. One aspect of faith is its sustaining power. When you feel like you have reached the depth of despair, we are encouraged to dig a little deeper. No matter the depths of that despair, it is not too deep for our Father to meet us there and to make sure we do not sink any deeper than what we can bear. We discover the safety net that He provides and experience His renewal and presence with more desire to move forward. To carry on…so to speak.

And, as we move forward, we experience yet another aspect of faith in the motivation we receive to live, to feel joy and to share with others the tenderness of our God. We find the urging from our Father in James 2:26…

"As the body without the Spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead."

The deeds or works are endless. Awareness of the distribution of the gift the Father has provided through faith is our job, as well as to uncover the opportunities set before us.

Faith also manifests a boldness to tackle our lives every day with the assurance of His presence so we can take on the mundane tasks and yet it prepares us for the decisions that are most influential. It gives us patience with our kids, understanding of our families, peace with bosses, and a gentleness with annoying neighbors. Faith assures us the Lord is looking out for everything from the moment our feet hit the floor in the morning until we lay our heads on our pillows at night.
 The final gift of faith that is most precious to me is that I can experience extraordinary peace… a calmness, assurance, and rest. There are days when I try so hard to tread water by myself but when I give up and rest in the arms of the Father, He holds me tight and keeps my head above water. I can breathe deeply and feel the buoyancy of being in His plan for the day.

So, the plan has changed for me and the lessons continue. Faith I experienced as a child when the Savior accepted me into His family lives on. The lessons seem more difficult, but the assurance remains the same. He promised it would.  Joy has returned to my life. God and I talk often, and He knows how I feel. I have figured out what the plan is, and I know the end game. It is His. He keeps telling me, "I've got this."

Bev Bothel

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