Finding a Way When Your Plans Don’t Work

By Michaela O’Donnell

May 23, 2020

Scripture: Luke 5:17-19 (NIV)

One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.


Like so many of you, the last few months have disrupted my plans in nearly every area of life. My children’s schools closed down, I lost out on work, and we had to cancel trips and celebrations. A few weeks into quarantine, my husband and I had to admit out loud that it was no longer possible for us to live the version of our lives that we had planned on living this Spring. There was just no way.

In Luke 5, we learn that people were gathered because Jesus was healing the sick. Among those trying to make their way to Jesus was a man who couldn’t walk. He was carried on a mat by a group of men. The men did their best to make their way to Jesus, but the crowd is just too thick. They couldn’t get in the house. There was just no way.

We don’t have all the details in the text, but I can just imagine one of the friends saying something like, “Ok, so we can’t go in the front door. What if we got up onto the roof of the house, and lowered him in that way? We could set him right in front of the healer! Jesus would have to help him then!”

Woven into the fabric of who we are as humans is an ability to find another way. We can think outside the box, we can come up with new ideas, we can suggest alternatives. Even when it’s hard, we can cope with change, adapt, and thrive in the midst of it. Our capacity to do this is one of my favorite parts of how God made us. I love that our hope and imagination can catalyze perseverance and resilience. As it turns out, much of the time, there is another way.

In quarantine, one of my kids learned to walk and the other learned to read. My husband and I worked in shifts and the house has been a hot mess (even more than usual). I’ve seen and talked with far fewer people, but the conversations I’ve had have been full and deeply meaningful. Even though this spring was not the life I imagined, it turns out that my family could actually adapt, deal, and even enjoy aspects of this season.


Over the last few months, where did you have to find another way? What did that feel like for you? What did God teach you through that experience?


Think of a person who you’ve come to appreciate—perhaps in a different way than before quarantine. Send them a note or give them a call to tell them how they’ve been part of this season of “finding another way.”


God, I trust that your ways are good. Help me to remember that you made me to think and act imaginatively. Help me to feel confident that you designed me to persevere. Thank you for loving me just as I am. And, thank you that the road to you is always open. Amen.

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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Best of Daily Reflections: Walking Around in the Skin of the Pharisees

Michaela O’Donnell

Mary and Dale Andringa Executive Director

Michaela is the Mary and Dale Andringa Executive Director Chair at the Max De Pree Center for Leadership. She is also an assistant professor of marketplace leadership and the lead professor for Fuller Seminary’s Doctor of Global Leadership, Redemptive Imagination in the Marketplace progr...

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