When God Changes Your Plans — by Pastor Pam Sutherland

Those who know me well and especially my husband, know that taking time to rest and relax is not something I do well. Lyndon often has to insist that I indulge in a little self-care. So I rather reluctantly picked a time to go to our home in Grayson County for a few days of rest and relaxation. The plan was to just enjoy the peace and quiet and visit with family and friends. Some of you saw the video I posted on Facebook of the view from our front porch. After living away from home for the last eight years I always feel so peaceful in that place where the only sounds heard are the birds singing in the trees.

Upon arrival we unloaded the car and began settling in when we got the call from my 87 year old mother-in-law. She had locked her keys in the car at Walmart, a 50 minute drive from our home. So off we went, thankful we were there to help her. Later that afternoon we got the call that my father-in-law would be released from rehab at the nursing home the next day. Hallelujah! (Some of you know that at just shy of 90 years old, he recently survived a life-threatening health emergency.)

Lyndon took his mom to town the next day to bring him home and I stayed behind to visit another family member who had just been released from the hospital and prepare for the arrival of the grandsons who wanted to fish in the pond and roast hot dogs over the fire. It was a good day all around. Lyndon’s dad was doing well and we enjoyed the evening with family that we don’t often get to see.

The next morning, Lyndon got up at 5:00AM to take his dad for a CT scan that no one knew about until he left the nursing home the day before. Upon arriving home, they received a call to bring him back to the ER immediately. We spent 8 long hours in the waiting room at Galax Hospital (we were in a full-moon phase so you can imagine what that was like in the ER), only to be told he was being transferred to Forsyth in Winston-Salem that night. We brought his mom home to rest and make arrangements for the dog, the cats, the mail, etc. and to pack her suitcase for an indefinite stay at a hospital 2 hours from home. The next day was spent at the hospital keeping my mother-in-law company, helping her understand and deal with this unexpected health issue, making sure she knew her way around, and to ask for what she needed, and updating the family with whatever information we were able to glean from the very busy hospital staff.

Obviously, this was not the restful, peaceful “vacation” we had envisioned. But oh how thankful we were to be able to be right there for Lyndon’s mom during a very stressful and uncertain time. Proverbs 16:9 says:

I had no idea when I reluctantly planned our “vacation” that the LORD was directing us to be in the right place at the right time for another purpose. Perhaps you have had that same experience of planning one thing and God using it for another, more important purpose. How we react when God changes our plans and redirects our steps, whether we know the reason or not, reveals how much we trust God to know what is best. I am thankful that in His foreknowledge, God puts us where we need to be at just the right time.

As for my father and mother-in-law, please continue to pray. The outcome is and always has been in God’s hands.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Pam

NOTE: Pastor Pam Sutherland’s charges include Fort Gibson United Methodist Church of Castlewood, VA and St. Paul United Methodist Church, St. Paul, VA.

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