When we were married, we knew two things about our future. We knew we wanted to serve as overseas workers in theological education and we knew that it was going to take us a while to get there. Alex had a strong desire to complete a Ph.D. beforehand and we both had school debt. It could take up to ten years–so we dubbed it The Ten Year Plan. It involved both of us working for four years, living below our means and paying off debt, Alex taking the GRE, Alex reentering graduate school for a second master’s degree, finding a way to pay for this, beginning our family, applying for Ph.D. programs, and hopefully completing a Ph.D. in three years at Oxford or Cambridge.
It has been said that this may be our plan but it is important to test it and step in it only so far as God leads or provides. So we have, and he has. He has provided homes, jobs, churches, friendships, scholarships, and opened the doors ahead of us. My dad gave me a car as a college senior that lasted us for the entire six years we needed a car. We carry a reasonable debt load at the minute and we’ve lived without a full-time income since about 2007. We are beginning Year Nine of The Ten Year Plan.
As Alex said recently, the plan has always been like the light of a flashlight, stretching out ahead of us and illuminating our path. We’ve always seen clearly what step to take next. But we’re not holding the flashlight and we’ve traveled nearly the length of the beam. We can still see around our feet but if that beam doesn’t move forward, we will soon step into the dark.
The approaching edge of the beam threatens my peace of mind daily. My feet would like to falter–though we are still on the illuminated part of the path. How very much I’d like to be the one holding the light. I’d like to beam it far into the shadows: five years, ten years down the road. Even if I could just flick it ahead for a moment, for a reassuring glimpse of our family, finally and happily settled somewhere for the long term. I want to hear a few words of the language we’ll be speaking and catch a glimpse of a community that we won’t be leaving after two or three years.
God hasn’t shown most of us the path that far ahead yet–and he gives us everything we need. Therefore we do not need to know. The things we need to know we already know–we just need to believe them. That every one of our days were written in his book when as yet there were none of them (Psalm 139:16) and that he knows the plans he has for us, plans for hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). That we may plan our way but God directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9). And that as we trust in him, he will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).