I have a relentless desire to plan out my future. I actually think I’m pretty good at it (insert pride here). In fact, I’m so good (insert more pride), I sometimes try to plan for the people around me too.
But every once in a while it hits me: am I working on my plan, or God’s plan?
In quiet moments, I innately understand that God is in control of my future, and that’s a good thing.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Sometimes, though, I forget to slow down to take that into account. The “planning machine” in my head turns itself on, and off we go!
Who’s Plan Will We Use?
My son was looking for a new job this week. In my “Dad-mind,” that task translated into, “My son and I are looking for a new job.” (Parents, is it only me, or do you think that way too?)
My internal planning machine went into high gear.
Out cranked a list of actions for him to consider. Then came a set of people to talk to. I kept offering to help, he kept turning me down. Hmm, I guess that means I need to come up with better advice!
Then, it hit me: Was that my son’s plan? Or God’s plan? Or my plan?
Sure, I was getting in the way of my son’s decision process (mistake #1). But I was also demonstrating a totally self-sufficient way to plan the future (mistake #2).
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3)
How Do We See God’s Plan?
My Mom’s family has a cabin on a wonderful lake in Alabama.
As kids, we had some great times there. It was exciting for us to go down to the pier at night. Maybe to see the stars, throw rocks, or just for the adventure.
Walking down the path flashlight in hand, we had plenty of light to take each step. We couldn’t see the whole path, but that didn’t slow our excited, bumbling trip to the lake.
As God’s plan is laid out for us, he often lets us see just a step or two ahead rather than the whole path. As we move forward, we can see a little further, enough to make progress a step at a time.
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalms 119:105-106)
Two stories with little to do with each other, except each provides a clue for how to find God’s plan.
What Is Our Planning Process?
But what process do we use to figure out God’s plan? And how do we follow God’s will?
It’s actually pretty simple. Not easy (things rarely seem totally clear), but not complicated.
- Pause, and prepare our heart to surrender to God’s will.
- Ask for his direction, then listen for a while.
- Thoughtfully decide the next step to take.
The “pause” is important because, first, we must slow our relentless drive to plan our own future. Then, the most critical part comes next, to surrender our will to God’s will.
After that, you just do it, the best you can. And then wait for God’s plan to work.
Question: When you make plans, does it normally occur to you to include God in the process?
Action: The next time you are planning the future, do your best to make it match God’s plan.