I’m a planner. Always have been. I like to look at my calendar, schedule upcoming events, and enter them into my day planner & phone. If I have extra time, I put them into my computer, too, for good measure.
Mark and I had plans. His meticulously-drawn plan for our move to Kansas was something to behold. He started, at my urging, by purchasing 51 1/2 acres of home section pasture land, right next to the family farmhouse, a few years back. He studied range management, and began working on restoring the pasture from fescue back to beautiful native grasses. He planted native grasses in one area, where we planned on building a home. But he was most proud of the fact that, over the course of the years, as the fescue dwindled, the native grass that had been on the land for over a century was given new life, and sprung back into its former glory.
He worked with local conservation agencies to draw up a plan for a pond. He had it dug just 2 1/2 years ago. Kidney-shaped, about 2 acres in size when full, it has a peninsula built into it where we would put picnic tables and outdoor furniture. The wild oats he ordered to have planted around its edge sat unopened in the local NRCS office at his death–a neighbor sowed those seeds last fall in his absence.
Now, he lies buried in his home church’s cemetery, just a quarter mile from his plans and dreams. That’s the stark reality of life. In my first outdoors column I quoted a Yiddish phrase, “Men plan and God laughs”….
Life’s not fair. Things don’t turn out the way “we” plan. I don’t think God laughed at our plans. I just think things happen outside of our control. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. And on a rare occasion, as in our case, the rug gets yanked out from under you, causing a re-evaluation of everything you love and hold dear.
I bought a new Bible. I am in love with it. Thanks to my Bible app, YouVersion, I’ve been able to read countless translations of scriptures. The translation that speaks most to me, at this particular time in my life, is The Message. Translated from the original Greek and Hebrew by Eugene H. Peterson, a minister, teacher, it is not intended to replace any other translation or the many excellent study Bibles available. It is first and foremost a reading Bible. He wanted to simply get people to read the Bible, to reach those who think the Bible is “un-readable” or too obtuse.
It reads like a novel. A non-fiction novel, if you will. It’s in plain language, and my 10 and 8 year old love to hear me read to them out of it. That alone was well worth the price I paid for it.
Last night, A.J. was having trouble falling asleep, so I read aloud to him my daily devotional and Bible passage, while he was snuggled into my bed. I could tell he wanted more, so I turned to the book of James, where Mark’s dear friend Steve found scripture that described him at his eulogy:
Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.”
I can’t worry about my acreage in Kansas, my pond, or where my family will be 2, 3, or even 5 years down the road. God will take care of the planning. He’ll work out the details, and when the time comes to do whatever He wants for me and my sons, I’ll know it. I trust Him.
There was no place he’d rather have been than tromping around that pasture, his pasture, cutting thistles and young cottonwoods, deciding what fish to stock in his pond. And in the process he made unforgettable memories for both his sons and for me.