He thought he would stay a year. He ended up staying 64. Talk about a change of plans!
Reverend Dr Ernest Poulson arrived in Singapore in 1953, at the age of 27, with his wife and two young daughters. His heart was set on being a missionary in Indonesia, but his visa was rejected, and he ended up staying here till he passed away on 13 October. He was 91.
Dr Poulson’s story reminds me of Proverbs 16:9, which tells us: “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”
As a mother with three young children and a husband who travels frequently, I cannot live without planning. I want motherhood to be predictable, quiet, and smooth. So, I make plans every day. But each day sees my plans scuttled by an emotional tantrum here, a sibling fight there. This reminds me of the singular truth: Life will never be the way I want it to be, because I am not in charge.
As God’s people, how can we respond?
For Dr Poulson, even though his dream of going to Indonesia was dashed, his conviction to serve God stayed firm. He became dean of Singapore Bible College for 30 years, served as senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church, and ministered to prisoners. Up till the very week he died, he was still leading Bible study.
“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” —Proverbs 16:9
Dr Poulson had his plans turned upside down. But he persevered—and fulfilled God’s plan for him, blessing generations of Singaporeans in the process.
Are we defeated by change? Do we become discouraged when things don’t go our way? Are we determined to push our plans through despite doors closing?
Whatever plans we may have now, let us be ready to welcome change. From spilt juice on the floor to retrenchment, from a relationship break-up to the diagnosis of a serious illness—no matter what changes come our way, let’s hold strong to the conviction to keep on serving God, just like Dr Poulson did. —Ruth Wan-Lau
Father, thank You for holding my life in Your loving hands. Teach me to keep serving You even when changes come, remembering that You have wonderful plans for me that I may not see or understand now.
“Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” —Matthew 6:10
Check out our devotional articles on odb.org.
You may also be keen to check out our Discovery Series booklet, Change: Following God through Life’s Crossroads