What are your plans for today? Tomorrow? This year? The next five years? The next ten? Typically, when we answer these questions, we do so with the trajectory of our life being in the pattern of constant ascent. Our finances will increase, the kids will all be at reputable schools, and we will have knocked a few more things off the bucket list. Life could unfold in such an advantageous way, but it typically does not. Simply stated, “stuff happens” (unexpected expenses, Jr. flunks out, a worldwide pandemic hits). So how should we make plans? Let me read you a proverb that will help. Proverbs 19:21 reads, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”
To begin, let me underscore what the scripture is not saying. It is not saying that plans are not important. If we live life without any plans, it is likely that we will find ourselves in the categories of the “scoffer,” “sluggard,” or “fool” that Proverbs so often rebukes. Plans do matter; however, they need to be made in conformity with God’s purpose if they are to truly succeed. That is why Wisdom and discernment are vital in approaching planning, for far too often we make plans, commit them to action, and then ask God to rubber stamp them. This is an impossible role reversal in which we ask the author of the universe to take our orders as if God was some type of cosmic butler. We deceive ourselves when performing this type of planning. Our plans fail, and we get angry with God. Or worse still, our plans succeed, and we get what we wished for but to our own ruin.
Let me suggest a few things to your planning process as suggested by the proverb that I believe will help. First, spend time with God in his word and take note of how his plans come to fruition in the lives of biblical characters. You will never see patterns of constant ascent. Instead, they often lose all they have but find everything they are looking for. Next, seek to understand the purposes God has for his people. I might suggest giving The Beatitudes of Matthew 5:3-10 as a starting point. Write those purposes out in your own words as you read. Lastly, humbly ask God to guide your steps as you make plans. If they undergird his ultimate purposes for your life, pray for the courage to keep them. If they don’t, pray for the humility to discard them. As this process concludes you might notice that your plans will look considerably different than anything you have ever attempted before in life. Do you know why? They are no longer your plans. They are God’s, but as surely as they are in line with his purposes, they will succeed and so will you.