What Really Happens When You Make Your Plans But God Directs Your Steps

That very first Christmas offers us a case study on Proverbs 16:9: We make our plans but the Lord directs our steps. 

For moms, interruptions are a way of life. After all, our kids interrupt our sleep and our conversations. Our plans for the day can be interrupted by a child who wakes up with a fever or a call from the school nurse to pick up our 3rd grader who WAS feeling fine that morning.  

Even our 5-minutes in the bathroom can be interrupted by knocks on the door. In full disclosure, as I was writing this episode, my 17 year old interrupted my writing looking for the dog. She didn’t even want to hang out with me.  

Sometimes when our kids interrupt us we might say to them “in a minute” or “Mommy is talking” or “I’m working. I can’t help right now.” Or we try to ignore the interruptions, but our kids are persistent at getting our attention. And, guys, this is a safe place to admit that sometimes when we’re interrupted, we feel frustrated or annoyed because we were in the middle of something else, whether we show those emotions outwardly or not. 

But what about when God interrupts us?

How do we respond to HIM? And make no mistake our God interrupts our plans…daily. 

When God interrupts us, He often wants to break us away from ourselves and reveal something about Himself or His plans for our lives. A plan that often involves drawing us closer to Him and rooting us deeper in His Truth. A plan that involves looking to Him, trusting Him more and taking a step in obedience. 

The Bible is full of stories of people and nations whose plans were interrupted and altered by the Lord.  

The Christmas Story: A Story of Interruptions

Take the first Christmas as an example. The Christmas story is a story of God interrupting the lives of individuals and ultimately the entire world. That very first Christmas offers us a case study on Proverbs 16:9: We make our plans but the Lord directs our steps. 

On that very first Christmas, God’s people had been waiting with anticipation. For 400 years.  

For 400 years God had been silent. That’s how many years had passed between the time of Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament and the stories chronicled in the New Testament. And while God’s people had been waiting with expectant hope for the reign of the Prince of Peace promised in Isaiah, God delivered on His promise with unexpectant interruptions. Interruptions they hadn’t planned on. Interruptions they hadn’t made accommodations for. Interruptions they hadn’t anticipated.   

Starting with a young girl. 

God interrupted Mary’s upcoming wedding with a pregnancy.  

He interrupted Joseph’s sleep with a message to follow through with the marriage.  

He interrupted the shepherds’ work with the news of the Savior’s birth.  

He interrupted our eternal separation from Him with the birth of a tiny baby.  

Mary had a plan. But God interrupted her plans and directed her steps…her life…differently. And we know now how His interruption altered not just her life but OUR lives but Mary didn’t know that then. And, yet, she gives us a beautiful framework for responding to the Lord’s interruptions.  

This is what Scripture says in Luke 1:26-34, 38. Listen for how Mary responds to God’s interruption. 

“God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’

“Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.’

“’How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’

“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’  

Listen to how Mary responds to God’s interruption to everything she had planned. It’s in verse 38 she says: “‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’”  

Mary had a plan for her life. To marry Joseph. Yet God interrupted those plans with His plan to save the world. Mary humbly responded by surrendering to God’s will, His plan, NOT her vision for her life….just like Proverbs 16:9 instructs: We make our plans but the Lord directs our steps. 

When God Interrupts Our Plans

We are no different from Mary. Like Mary God interrupts our plans, too. And we sometimes respond to Him like we respond to our kids, but like our kids, He is persistent in His interruptions. But sometimes it requires changing our perspective on interruptions in order to fully embrace what He wants to reveal. 

Let me leave you with some questions to consider that may help you shift your perspective and help open your eyes to God’s interruptions: 

**What if He is using those interruptions to recalibrate your direction and turn your head towards the path He wants you to take in the moment, in the day, in the season, in your life? 

**What if those daily interruptions–your child’s knock on your door after you’ve tucked her in, the text during a meeting, the friend see at the store when you’re already running late for the carpool line–were really moments when God wants to reveal more of His character to You OR THROUGH YOU? 

**What if God wants to use those interruptions to draw you closer to Him? To strengthen your trust in Him?  

**And what if you woke up each day waiting with expectant hope for God’s interruptions? And then what if you responded to those interruptions to your plans the same way that Mary did: I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said?   

A Prayer of Interruptions 

Father, thank You for interrupting your 400 years of silence with the birth announcement of our Savior. You know us better than we know ourselves. So you aren’t surprised by our reactions to your interruptions. We sometimes respond with annoyance or tell You not right now or maybe later. And we also try and ignore your interruptions. God just saying those words out loud helps us to see how much we need your help to change our posture when you interrupt our plans for our lives. Please help us to respond like Mary when she said: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be as you said.” And, Father, thank you for interrupting our death with your Son Jesus. Amen  

As a writer and speaker, Lisa’s heart beats for encouraging women, supporting parents in their role as a child’s first and best teacher, and pointing people to Jesus. Lisa lives in north Atlanta, with her husband of 25+ years, Clay, and their two daughters, Emerson and Ellery.  To learn more, follow Lisa on Instagram, visit her website or order her devotional, Simplifying Rest.

(This is an edited transcript of “When God Interrupts Your Plan,” Episode 1o of The Carpool Line Podcast. This podcast from Family Christian gives moms a few minutes to connect with God so they can better connect with their families. Here’s how to listen.)

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