Man Plans, God Laughs

This morning, I was thinking about the Yiddish proverb, "Man plans, God laughs."

You see, it's my youngest son, Camden's second birthday today -- the son that I didn't plan on having. The son that caused the little blue positive line on the pregnancy test that rocked my world two years and nine (really more like eight) months ago.

I'm a planner. I freely admit it. I spend a good amount of time creating and reviewing our family calendar to keep all our appointments and activities running smoothly. And, although I'm not a huge fan of accounting, I find a lot of satisfaction in planning our monthly budget and allocating money to here and there. Although it's only May, I enjoy thinking about what we're going to be doing this summer, booking vacations or hotel rooms and even thinking about the Fall when school starts up again.

My motto is that things run smoother with a plan in place.

However, don't get me wrong. I really like the idea of change and the idea of being okay with and even embracing different. There's a part of me that loves being flexible and off the beaten path. Some of the most amazing adventures in my life have come about completely unplanned -- and even have fought against my original plan.

However, I am usually quick to plan the unplanned event, so, I guess that leads me back to square one.

I am so much of a planner that I made sure to find out the gender of each of our babies so that I could appropriately plan everything from baby showers to the baby's room to baby names. I know I'm not alone in that regard. However, one of my good friends refuses to find out the gender of her babies beforehand. That is completely incomprehensible to me. She holds firm to the traditionalist view that she'll find out when the baby is born and doesn't need to know about it beforehand. I think that's crazy talk.

I offer all that information up so that you can understand a bit better how much that unexpected pregnancy threw me for a loop.

I should also insert here that this is not the first time this happened to us. Camden's older brother, Declan, was an unforeseen surprise. We had definitely planned to have a third child. However, we were planning for another year out from when he was actually born. We were "taking care of business," but apparently that 2% or so of birth control failure applied.

So, you'd think that this surprise would have been a bit easier to take. But, since we had already had one unexpected gift, I guess I thought that would be the one and only. Also, although we love Camden fiercely and dearly, we were really done after three. My husband was definitely done after Declan was born. I wasn't initially. But gradually, I came around to his way of thinking. I started running. I started losing the rest of the baby weight and beyond. I booked a trip to Africa. I started to look forward to days without diapers and nights of unbroken sleep.

But then came that little blue line.

I planned.
God laughed.
And, I laughed too...although that came a bit later.

I was a bit devastated at first. It's hard to admit to that without throwing a shadow over the existence of such a beautiful and amazing little boy. But, it's true. I planned not to have any more children. But, God thought otherwise.

And how can I explain how grateful I am for God's "laughter" over my life and my tunnel-visioned plans. Camden brings something to our family that is entirely different. We didn't realize how much it would mean to Declan to have a younger brother. And I can freely admit that the planner part of me was thrilled that I didn't have to change any crib bedding or try to find baby girl clothes. We had everything we would need.

I know that this quote might not be everyone's favorite. You can definitely read it a certain way where it seems like God is up in heaven lazily watching the human race with detachment and having a laugh at our expense over the dumb and unwise things we decide to do. However, I don't read it that way. To me, God is a loving Father. I can no more picture him smirking and rolling his eyes at my sincere actions, then I can picture myself doing that to my own children.

Rather I tend to think that it is more along the lines of what happens when we parents see our children try to do something that we know won't work out well due to our years of experience in life. It's kind of like seeing the confusion and then dawning realization on your child's face when they mop themselves into a corner and figure out that they will either have to step on the wet floor or stand there until it dries. Experience has already taught us to start at the dead end and work back. We can get a light-hearted chuckle out of seeing them learn that same lesson. But, it's a fond sort of laughter....not the derisive kind.

Ultimately, I just like the mental picture of God laughing. That's the kind of God I serve. One that cries. One that laughs. One that feels what I feel.

But what happens when we invert that quote?

God plans, Man laughs.

I think this one is a bit more common. How often does God whisper something that seems virtually impossibly into our heart -- something so unbelievable that all we can do is laugh at the absurdity of it all?

One of my favorite examples of this is found in Genesis 18:1-15 when three men (one which scholars believe to be God himself) visit Abraham and Sarah who have been childless for years and are well-past the "child-bearing" age.

9 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There, in the tent,” he said. 10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.

12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” 13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” 15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”
I wish I could have been a "locust on the tent" and seen this exchange go down. I can almost picture Sarah stifling a good guffaw that came out despite her best attempts to behave in front of company. I'm guessing she was far enough away that no one heard her breach of etiquette. No one heard her, but the One who made her, and knew what was in her heart. I can just picture him as I can my own father from my younger days -- fixing her with a stern look in his eyes asking why she would laugh -- yet, the twinkle in his eyes betraying his amusement.

He knew what Sarah did not. He could give her what she longed for most.

And, two years ago, that same God gave me something that I didn't even know I needed.

So, why shouldn't He laugh? It actually makes ME want to laugh -- the idea that my paltry plans would somehow work out better than what God would want for my life. That He can and does intervene to create and make a way -- even when we've actively or passively opposed it.

That's why He is God. He knows better than I do. He does amazing things despite me.

If that isn't cause for a good belly laugh, I'm not sure what is!

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