When Things Don't Go as Planned

John D. Barry

Exodus 33–34; John 6:1–14; Song of Solomon 4:9–13

I live in the world of projects. There are a few things I know for certain about them, aside from all requiring a budget and a schedule to have any hope of success. They will all take more time than I expect (at least 25 percent more), and they will all have problems. It seems that nothing ever goes according to plan. No one will complain, though, if the result, budget, and end date remain the same. There’s a biblical lesson here—Moses’ story is one of the best analogies for this.

Moses had likely planned for the Israelites to enter the Holy Land shortly after leaving Egypt, but mistake after mistake (on his part and the part of others) kept this from happening. In return, he spent years (about a half a lifetime) wandering in the wilderness. In Exodus 33:1, we read one of God’s direct instructions, “Go, go up from here” (Exod 33:1), but Moses proceeds to argue with God, interceding for the people (Exod 33:12–23). Things aren’t going according to plan—for Moses or God. Finally, God gives Moses new instructions to solve the predicament the people have gotten themselves into: “Look, I am about to make a covenant. In front of all your people I will do wonders that have not been created on all the earth and among all the nations” (Exod 34:10).

Here, in the middle of the debacle, God takes care of the problem with a promise. Over and over again, God makes promises; and unlike people, He keeps them. God performs marvels.

We see this in the events in Jesus’ life as well. Jesus doesn’t just feed the people, He overturns their notions about where food comes from (John 6:1–12). Jesus creates marvels like nothing anywhere in creation—other than where God Himself has worked. Of course, this shows that Jesus is indeed God. We’re often waiting for a marvel, and we will truly see them when following the Spirit. But how much more often is God waiting for us to pay attention and see how He can take plan B and make it plan A—like nothing we’ve seen before.

What is not going as planned in your life right now? How do you think God might use the thing that feels out of control to show how marvelous He is?

This article was originally posted in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.


John D. Barry is the CEO and founder of Jesus’ Economy, a nonprofit dedicated to creating jobs and churches in the developing world. To empower the extreme poor, Jesus’ Economy also has an online fair trade shop. John is also the general editor of Faithlife Study Bible and the former editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. Learn more about John’s work with Jesus’ Economy at www.jesuseconomy.org.