How Can I Trust God When My Plans Fail?

Audrey Wetherell Johnson’s remarkable journey

How Can I Trust God When My Plans Fail

In the intricate tapestry of life, things rarely unfold the way we imagine. Plans crumble, dreams fade, and unexpected detours challenge your ability and sense of purpose. You may question whether you missed something or weren’t performing as well as God needed you to. Fortunately, God sees the bigger picture. Audrey Wetherell Johnson’s remarkable journey is evidence to this perspective – a story that began in China, took an unexpected turn, and eventually blossomed into the global phenomenon that is Bible Study Fellowship (BSF).

Audrey’s initial calling led her to the vast landscapes of China in the early 20th century. Armed with a heart full of zeal and a desire to share the gospel with those who had never heard of Jesus, she embarked on a missionary journey filled with purpose. Little did she know that God had an unknown twist in her path. Her calling was about to be tested, and God was about to reroute her.

Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (ESV). Audrey’s steps took an unforeseen turn when the political winds in China shifted, and the Communist regime expelled her in 1950. After spending three years in a World War II concentration camp, Audrey was on her way down a new path. In that season of apparent defeat, Audrey may have questioned the purpose behind her years of ministry in China, but God was orchestrating a grander plan.

How Can I Trust God When My Plans Fail?

In those moments of uncertainty, Audrey could have easily succumbed to despair. Her commitment to God’s Word compelled her to turn the pages for comfort. She no doubt read verses like Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (ESV).

God was setting the stage for something far beyond her imagination.

Saddened by her forced exit from her beloved China, Audrey embarked on a new chapter, founded in faith and resilience. During this period of apparent wilderness, the seeds of Bible Study Fellowship were sown.

According to Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (ESV). Her calling was far from over; it was just far different from anything she had ever imagined.

Arriving in San Bernardino, California, Audrey, a Chinese missionary from England, was asked to speak to a group of Christian women. Afterwards, five of them asked her if she would teach them the Bible. Dumbfounded, she prayed, as she usually did before making a decision. She didn’t see how this fit with her original call to be a missionary to the lost. But Audrey sensed God wanted her to teach the women and train them how to study God’s Word.

The journey from expelled missionary to the visionary founder of a global Bible study movement challenged her in unbelievable ways. The pages of her story reflect the truth of Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (ESV). Audrey’s purpose stood strong, not in the way she anticipated, but in God’s design that would touch lives across continents.

The birth of BSF rose, in essence, from the ashes of shattered plans. As Audrey embraced the new direction of her life, she embodied Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (ESV). What seemed like an ending became a beginning – one that would impact hundreds of thousands around the globe, including her precious China.

How Can I Trust God When My Plans Fail?

BSF, a movement that began as a response to adversity, is a thriving community of believers spanning more than 120 nations today. The once-expelled missionary became a beacon of hope for those seeking a deeper understanding of God’s Word. In Audrey’s story, we find echoes of Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (ESV).

Audrey’s journey is an encouraging reminder that your plans may crumble. Your feet may even stumble, but God’s purpose remains unshakable. As you navigate the twists and turns of life, you can find comfort in the words of Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (ESV).

So, when you take steps of faith and do what God has directed you to do, and things don’t turn out the way you thought they should, trust God. He knows your imperfections, and He still chooses to use you. He is responsible for the outcome.

He uses ordinary people dependent on Him to accomplish extraordinary things.

When life takes an unexpected turn, when plans unravel, and when dreams seem shattered, remember Audrey Wetherell Johnson’s story. In the chaos, God is weaving a tapestry of purpose, one that goes way beyond your understanding and leads to a destination far more glorious than you could ever imagine.