A few weeks back I went up north on a solo expedition to Traverse City and the Sleeping Bear Dunes. I really had been looking forward to reading, journaling, and drinking good coffee all while enjoying God’s beautiful creation. Throughout the weekend I learned a lot about my expectations of God’s will.
My first time going to Sleeping Bear Dunes was with some friends during a hard time, and the sheer beauty I saw and peace I felt was overwhelming. For the next two years, I dreamed of going back to the first sand dune I had ever hiked. I wanted a time of solitude with The Lord on my dream dune with the sun shining and water glistening.
I woke up slow on that morning, walked around downtown and then hit the road for my dune, coffee in hand. I wasn’t sure what it was called specifically, and because I slept while my friends drove, nothing was really familiar. I googled “sleeping bear dunes” and began the 45-minute drive west. My GPS told me I had arrived when I passed a sign that said “Welcome to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore” but there was no driveway or entrance. No sweat, I thought, I again googled it and this time added “park”. I drove another 40 minutes, only to arrive at a campground that I knew did not lead to my sand dune. I googled it again, this time, looking at the actual green and blue spots on the map, searching for my dune. I took deep breaths as I drove for about another hour and a half, each location just wasn’t it, and I was beginning to lose hope of finding my day in the sun. I finally found a place that had a booth and person to take my money, I figured it would have to do. I paid the fifteen dollars and began the scenic drive. There were ten stops on the map, I prayed that one would be my dune.
The first stop was a wooden bridge. My heart dropped, this for sure was not the home of my sand dune. I continued on because I paid good money for this scenic drive, but stop after stop left me feeling blue. I got to stop 4, a wooden deck looking over the sand dunes. I ate a piece of cheese and took in the sights. I wanted so badly to be okay with this sand dune. I stood on the man-made structure with the other tourists and tried not to cry. Had I driven all this way for this? I thought about jumping off the deck and hiking to find the water myself, but then my memory was jogged. I suddenly remembered that my dune was called “Pyramid Point”.
I jumped back in my Subaru excitedly, turned the new Killers album back on, and googled “Pyramid Point”. I was an hour and another $15 away from my dream dune. I didn’t care, I wanted to be there and not on this scenic drive. I decided to stop at one of the bathrooms before I left the park, I pulled off at one of the stops, called “Lake Michigan”. There were a lot of people around and because the line for the restroom was long, I figured I could walk the path to see another wooden lookout point while I waited.
To my surprise this wasn’t like any of the other stops, it was an actual sand dune. I walked out, sand between toes and the sun in my eyes, this was just like my sand dune. It was just as tall and wide as mine, and Lake Michigan was glistening just the same. I found a little spot to perch above the lake and journaled the afternoon away. I stared at the expansive view and inevitably got a sunburn, I was convicted by my new perspective.
I had a dream that I wanted to have come to life. My motives were good, so I was ready to spend as much time, energy, and money as it would take to get there. I desired a time with God and envisioned it on my sand dune. God knew that, and He provided it to me. He is a loving father and he knows the desires of my heart. He knew that I wanted to see the Lake on a tall hill of sand, but his plan to get there was different than mine. The dune he provided was just as good, if not better, and I would have missed out on it if I had pushed on to get it the way I thought I could.
God is a way better planner than I could ever be. His plans don’t always make sense, his timing sometimes seems off, and he gives us things that don’t always look like what we want. However, when that’s the case, we need to take a step back and check to see who designed our plan. Was it you?
God’s timing is always perfect and He gives us exactly what we need, which isn’t always what we expect.
When I look at my own life, what I pictured back in high school and where I ended up today, I’m amazed by God’s provisions. My dream job was to work with kids and serve God, that’s exactly what I’m doing. My life plan didn’t include moving to Michigan or becoming a young professional, but I wouldn’t change anything. God guided me here according to his plan, and it’s so much better than mine.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you, declares The LORD, plans for welfare and not evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Walker Harbor Kids Coordinator