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Plans and Reality

I am a planner. I like to forecast where I believe things will be in the near future. I like to have a sense of clarity about what I am doing and why I am doing it. I am amazed, in fact, at how much energy and focus I have when I have a clear plan to work on. That is probably why a number of verses in Proverbs jumped out at me this morning. This book is a rapid fire collection of wise saying about life which at items appear to be in no particular order. The important themes, however, repeat themselves. So as I read Proverb 19-21, the following verses all proclaimed the same principle:
• Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (19:21)
• A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way? (20:24)
• A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart. (21:2)
• The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD. (21:31)
It is our job to make plans. It is God’s job to determine the results. We are designed with active minds, decisive wills, and vibrant emotions so that we can be full participants in life. We naturally think, dream, and plan. Life is bigger than us though so God actively directs our steps and governs the affairs of men. It is a remarkable partnership that works best when both parties are fully engaged. The hard part, of course, is when our plans get redirected by God’s sovereignty. Remaining flexible to God’s leading while pursuing goals is one of life’s great challenges.
Intellectually, I know this is how it is. Emotionally, however, I think I will struggle with this my whole life. Just in the past month I have seen this principle play out numerous times:
• I made plans to be finished with a writing project on August 30th. I will most likely be done this weekend.
• I made plans to complete a landscape repair on my property by September 15th. I think I will begin that project on October 15th.
• I made plans to clean my office this week and the verdict is still out.
In a bigger sense, I have seen this play out in the direction my career has taken. I made plans to be a local pastor my whole life. I have watched as God transformed that desire into a conference ministry. I made plans to provide Pam with the opportunity to develop her speaking and writing ministry to women. God used that platform to develop a ministry together speaking and writing for men, women and couples.
Sometimes this principle is comforting because it means I don’t have to figure it all out myself. My job is to keep moving, actively making plans that make sense. God’s job is to direct my steps so His plans prevail. At other times, it is irritating as I realize I have no ultimate control over my life. So, I keep reminding myself to ignore the irritation, get back to doing my part, and trust that when I look back I will realize that God’s plans really were best after all.

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