When Your Perfect Plan Doesn’t Pan Out – and Why That Might Be a Good Thing

by | Sep 18, 2018 | Encouragement

Ever have a perfect plan that didn’t work out? Yeah, me too.

I rarely have a guest post on my blog. But, today, you’re in for a treat. Please welcome fellow Iowan, Jennifer Dukes Lee! I’ve had the honor of sharing a stage with her, and let me tell you, she’s real, authentic, and amazingly down to earth. She’s a lot like you and me. And a cool thing is, her daughter is a student of my friend’s son!

Her book, It’s All Under Control, releases today. Friend, this book has rocked my world (in a good way) and has reminded me again everything doesn’t have to be on my shoulders. It’s much better for me to partner with God than to play God. I believe you’ll be blessed by picking up a copy of this incredibly freeing book!

Please welcome Jennifer!


Back when I was a news reporter, I wrote a four-day series of articles on the state of rural America.

I capped the series with a personal essay that said, in no uncertain terms, that rural life held nothing for me, even though I had grown up there. I had my own plans—and they would unfold in a city, end of story. Well, let me tell how that turned out. Right now, the view from my kitchen window is a farm.

Yep, I am the wife of an Iowa farmer.

We’re raising corn, soybeans, pigs, … and two beautiful humans. This is also where God raised up my faith.

God planted me in a place I never wanted, and that’s where I found what I really needed. From tiny seeds, my faith grew. This is the part of the world where Jesus captured my wandering heart. I shudder to think what would have happened if my take-charge self had steamrolled her way toward her own plans rather than surrendering to his.

Today, I’m wearing a baseball T-shirt screen-printed with the words “Keeping It Rural.” God willing, I’ll be “keeping it rural” and keeping it real for many years to come on this patch of Iowa. But I know that I don’t get to decide any of that. It’s “all under control,” and that control is not mine.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). Let that verse fall upon your heart today.

What are your plans?

Do you ever sense that your plans don’t always perfectly align with God’s?

As you consider your plans, I offer these gentle words: Tend your seeds wherever they may fall, my friend. You never know what might be growing, even now, in unexpected places.

When we live surrendered to God, we don’t have to stop making plans. Instead, we hold those plans loosely. We may look into the rearview mirror one day and be relieved that our well-laid plans never came to pass.

Let me give you an example.

A few months ago, I found an old prayer journal that I kept for many years. I’d written down names and just enough details so that when I looked back on it, I remembered afresh what I had prayed for. I flipped through the pages to find evidence of broken marriages, severe illnesses, addictions, betrayals, prodigal sons. There were prayers for new jobs, church moves, and absurdly bold dreams.

With the gift of hindsight, I can see the hand of God.

He moved some mountains just the way I asked him to, and he moved some mountains farther than I thought possible.

I also saw that he didn’t move every mountain. He didn’t part every sea. He didn’t fulfill my every desire and bless my every plan. And some of that stings. There are still unresolved conflicts, great unknowns, and ginormous “whys” when I turn the pages in my prayer journal.

But through this journey, there are four things I’m beginning to believe about our prayers and our plans:

  1.     Not a single second is wasted when we take our plans and desires before the Lord. 
  2.     We will never regret praying bigger than we dared think was possible—the kind of prayer that a smiling God might remark about when we get to heaven: “Wow, child. You remember what you prayed for way back when? That was one ambitious prayer!” 
  3.     We will someday thank God that he didn’t always do what we wanted. 
  4.     He won’t move every mountain. He won’t part every sea. But we can trust him still. One day, his plan will make total sense. “As for God, his way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30).

May these words encourage you as you hold on to your plans, and seek God for his.

Win a copy of Jennifer’s book!

I’m so excited to be a part of a huge giveaway to celebrate the release of It’s All Under Control. Jennifer and her publisher, Tyndale, are giving away 50 copies of the book in celebration of its release! Enter here to win. Giveaway ends September 30. Winners will be notified by Tyndale House Publishers. Email subscribers can click here to enter.  


Jennifer Dukes Lee is the wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, and an author. She loves queso and singing too loudly to songs with great harmony. Once upon a time, she didn’t believe in Jesus. Now, He’s her CEO. Jennifer’s newest book, It’s All Under Control,and a companion Bible study, are releasing today! This is a book for every woman who is hanging on tight and trying to get each day right―yet finding that life often feels out of control and chaotic. 

Adapted from It’s All under Control: A Journey of Letting Go, Hanging On, and Finding a Peace You Almost Forgot Was Possible by Jennifer Dukes Lee, releasing this fall from Tyndale House Publishers.

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  1. Cindy

    Love this! And your words did encourage me Jennifer and Julie!


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