There some things in life that are planned well in advance and there are some things that were unplanned and often take us by surprise.
This week, much has been reported about those who have booked holidays, and, now, because of COVID 19, those holidays are being cancelled. There are weddings, family celebrations, graduation events, school exams, conferences, summer festivals and many other events, which, even with the best of planning, now have to be cancelled.
Life can turn our plans on its head!
I was reminded this week of the story of Annie Johnson-Flint. Annie Johnson was born on Christmas Eve in 1866. Her mother died when she was very young, after giving birth to Annie’s younger sister. Annie and her sister became orphaned as children. However, they were adopted into a loving Christian family, The Flints, and took their surname along with their own.
Annie’s dream was to be a concert pianist. But sadly in her teenage years, developed rheumatoid arthritis so severe so that by the age of 30, Annie could no longer walk. The intense pain in her fingers and hands also meant that she was unable to play the piano – her hopes, dreams and plans in tatters.
Yet in spite of this Annie’s faith in Christ was unshakeable, and even though she could not fulfil her ambitions, God gave her the ability to become a prolific poet and writer. Even the intense pain in her fingers would not deter her and Annie wrote many hundreds of poems and verses, some of which have been made into hymns.
It’s no coincidence that Annie’s favourite verse of Scripture was 2 Corinthians 12:9, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness’… or, as The Message translations says, ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness’…..
To Annie, these were not just words on a page, but the reality of her experience.
One of her most famous poems was, a number of years later, set to music and the words that she penned are as appropriate now as they were then. Our plans at the moment may have been shattered or at best, put on hold, but God’s plans will never be thwarted, even if, at times, we don’t understand them. But God has a plan for each of us; we have to be willing to allow His plans to have priority over our own, for His plan is for our benefit and His grace is as sufficient for us as it was for Annie Johnson-Flint!
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labours increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will He bear.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
Annie Johnson-Flint died at the age of 66. Her plans to be a concert pianist never materialised, but God used her words to bring comfort and assurance and today, in spite of what we currently facing, God’s grace is still in abundance.