As summer comes to an end, my focus has been on planning for the year ahead. My work demands it and my board expects it. In the midst of my “meet up, start up, join up” plans for 2014-2015, I started thinking about how much of my life hasn’t gone according to my plan.
Is your career what you planned? Mine isn’t. I thought I’d be an architect. That didn’t happen. I’m a pastor. A spiritual engineer. That wasn’t even on my radar. I was the kid in the back of the church making fun of our pastor. I can even remember thinking “Why would anyone want to do what that guy does?!”
I also never wanted to live in Los Angeles. Too much traffic. But God had a different idea. We ended up living in the LA area for 25 years.
And I absolutely, positively, never planned on living in Phoenix. Way too hot for me. But God had other plans. He put us there for seven summers (you count years in Phoenix by how many summers you survive).
Now we’re living in the SF Bay area. That wasn’t in our plans either. We love living here. Great weather. Manageable traffic. But the cost of renting or buying a home is ridiculous. A couple weeks ago a 1,100 sq ft nothing special home right behind ours rented for $4,750 a month. We’d like to buy a home here, but unless we become the next Silicon Valley millionaires, it’s not likely.
Isn’t that how life often goes? For more about that, check out “When Life Doesn’t Go According To Your Plan”
“The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Are you familiar with that statement found in Proverbs 16:9? It captures what James had in mind when he wrote these words found in James 4:13-15:
Now listen, you who say,
“Today or tomorrow
we will go to this or that city,
spend a year there,
carry on business and make money.”
Why, you do not even know
what will happen tomorrow…
Instead, you ought to say,
“If it is the Lord’s will,
we will live and do this or that.”
Solomon and James aren’t saying that we shouldn’t plan. Planning is good. Go ahead and make a “to do” list, a weekly menu, a budget, goals for the year. Plans help us use our time wisely, give us hope, and keep us moving forward. They help us make the most of our lives.
But what they are saying is that when we plan, we need to keep God and His plans as our priority. We need to place His will above ours. We need to allow His plans to interrupt and change our plans.
So yes, plan. But plan in pencil, not pen. Add a really important “if” to your plans. If the Lord wills, we’ll do this or that. And mean it.
Do you get frustrated when things don’t go according to your plan? That may be a sign that you are more focused on your own plans than on God’s plans. Let it be a reminder to you that the best plan is to make plans with open hands.
By David Gudgel