Only God Knows

I’ve always been a planner. Right now I could tell you when I think my husband and I will own our first house, how much we will have in investments by the time we retire, how many kids we will have. You get the picture. It has become increasingly obvious to me over the last few years, however, that planning done with the wrong mind-set just shines a spotlight on how little control people have over their lives.

Let me illustrate. Exactly one week before this article was due, I went into labor with our first child, only to arrive home from the hospital with a baby girl and three days to the deadline. I had to learn how to feed her at all hours of the night and day without a fleet of nurses at my disposal, while at the same time trying to recall that skill I had in high school of writing essays mere hours before the teacher wanted them. (I said I’m a planner, not that I don’t procrastinate.) We read in Scripture of God’s perfect vision for our futures and how he has a plan for our lives. Only by looking back on the last few years can I start to see the clear vision with which he has guided my blind steps.

My husband and I decided we would go abroad after college and before he went to seminary. That was what we agreed to, at least. Honestly though, I secretly hoped we would arrive overseas and decide to spread God’s good news there indefinitely. We made amazing friends there, some of whom I still keep up with. We grew in our faith and planted seeds, some of which we still see the Holy Spirit tending and growing. We also got chances to travel and see the other side of the God’s created world. I wouldn’t trade that year in Asia for anything.

But God had his perfect vision set on other sights for us. We left after one year so that my husband could start at the seminary. The day we got back to the U.S. I found out I was pregnant, and I admit that I breathed a huge sigh of relief that I was back in my home country where I had the support of my family for this next stage of our lives. All of a sudden those idyllic thoughts of travelling and experiencing the world indefinitely seemed crazy. But God still had his perfect vision set for our lives. That year overseas prepared us for the work we did at the international students’ dormitory for Wisconsin Lutheran High School. Now instead of us being in one foreign country, people from many countries came to us and lived as students under our care. It was as fulfilling an experience as we could have hoped for during this time in our lives. God blesses us, and others through us, in ways that only he fully knows.

God is always in control. We read this in Scripture and know it in our heads. But do we always feel this in our hearts? I hope that reading this gives you encouragement, especially other seminary wives who may be struggling with a seeming lack of control over their future. Only God knows the endless possibilities for our lives, and we can rest assured that he will pick the perfect plan to guide our steps as we walk through uncertain times.

Maddie Helwig, an MLC graduate, is married to Sam, who recently completed his junior year. This article first appeared the 2020 issue of Preach the Gospel.

Maddie and Sam spent a year teaching English in Southeast Asia.