I bet you have a really good story about a time in your life when your plans have changed. I would bet that you have several exciting stories that ensued from changed plans, maybe some that turned out good, some that were annoying, and some that were downright infuriating. The story of my birth is a great example of how plans can go array, involving a super chill doctor, a fiftieth wedding anniversary, and a hastily changed flight. Since that story isn’t super relevant to my life in South East Asia, I’ll spoil the end – I was not born on a plane! We did it guys!
You know what they say about ‘best laid plans’.
I should have known, really, that the best laid plans for this Christmas were going to change. The short story is, it was going to be two of us, but (happy change!) another friend joined along! I had to turn in my visa paperwork on Thursday to pick it up on Friday, but I couldn’t turn it until Friday and then wouldn’t pick it up till Wednesday. Hotels and guesthouses were booked as we went. Our trip to the capital turned into a trip to the countryside. Traveling with known friends turned into traveling with strangers and making friends along the way.
Here’s the thing about best laid plans- how do you know that they’re actually what’s best? How can plans be quantified as best? Convenience? Safety? Traveling with people you know? Picking up your passport on time so you can continue to live overseas with the promise of returning home without being deported or incarcerated? I’m just spitballing here.
We ended up exploring new cities and saw the glorious mountain ranges that South East Asia can offer, and even the deep caves that were carved by a flowing river going straight through the mountain. Gazing at the mountains and the stars and the trees I was in awe. How can a place this beautiful actually exist? It was like I was reading a novel, only to look up and find out that fiction had become fact. G. K. Chesterson has an exceptional book called “Orthodoxy” that perfectly describes my feelings.
“Fairy tales say that apples were golden only to refresh the forgotten moment when we found that they were green. They make rivers run with wine only to make us remember, for one wild moment, that they run with water.”―
Even surrounded by beauty I was anxious about my passport and the change of my perfect plans. I was worried my inconvenience had ruined the trip for my fellow companions. I wasn’t sure if we would make it back in time for work, or to pick up my passport, or to catch the next bus. And yes, even going into the cave, and, admittedly, I was a little anxious about flooding and mountains collapsing and darkness and death…But as we rode through the river and the darkness, our headlamps barely illuminating the cavernous ceiling, I was constantly reminded and amazed by Psalm 139.
“If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
In the heights of the mountains.
In the depths of the darkest caves.
In a bus surrounded by people. (no such thing as a full bus!)
With new friends nearby.
And family far away.
He is there.
Christmas of 2018 and New Years 2019 was one for the books and one I’ll never forget. I have goals and dreams and hopes for the new year and, sure, even plans. But, I think if the beginning of 2019 has taught me anything it’s that the best laid plans often go array.
But I hope that when our plans continue to change in 2019, that we end up with new friends and magnificent adventures in caves and mountains. And…that we still manage to get our passports back as well!