To Plan or Not to Plan

Are you a resolution maker?   Did you make any this year?

I’m not huge on “New Years resolutions” per se but I do like to have a goal in front of me on a pretty regular basis. It feels like it just helps give life some shape and purpose (not that there aren’t a myriad of other things that do that as well). There’s just something about learning something new. Or challenging yourself. Or just plain STARTING a thing and actually FINISHING it! Know what I mean?

Then there’s the tracking. Oh, how I love the tracking! I’m tracking this post, in fact. Right now. On my little “Considering Eternity grid.” (Seriously. I’m a little weird like that).

The Bible is interesting in its communication on goals and goal setting (keep in mind we’re not getting into the context of each verse here, but you’ll get the idea…) On the one hand we learn, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5) and on the other, “The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples.” (Psalm 33:10) And to add yet another level of consideration, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

So, what do we do? Dive in and use every ounce of our human strength to plot and plan and make something happen or wait for God to divinely intervene in our day to day world and tell us which color socks to put on? I vote neither. I subscribe (ok, try to subscribe) to James 4:15, “Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

I think God is cool with us having goals, dreams and aspirations for our lives. I think He even wants us to live with purpose and to stretch ourselves to live to the capacity that He intended for us. But I think, more than anything, He wants to know that we aren’t so committed to any one plan that He can’t interrupt it with something different. Like with anything in life, He wants our hearts first.

So plan your plans, set your goals, dream your dreams…but don’t forget to add “If the Lord wills…” Because none of us is promised tomorrow and the most lofty goal has already been set for us:

“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,…”
Matthew 6:33

4 thoughts on “To Plan or Not to Plan

  1. The Christian life is full of paradoxes. One I read recently was from Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. Jesus tells us the his yoke is easy and his burden is light but then he tells us that we must take up our cross and carry it. Lewis explains that Jesus is with us in this process and so both are true. We carry a cross but we do not do it alone. He is there to carry it with us. He carries the greater load and so our burden is light in comparison.

  2. This is great for those of us who are not ‘planners’ and list makers!! I try to live intentionally, but it is just so easy for me to get side tracked.

  3. I am a planner by nature and was at one time a hard core planner-to the extent that any changes or disruptions to my set plans or goals would result in frustration and anxiety. Then I encountered the “God Factor” or “If the Lord wills” and found freedom! Goals and plans are good for me and provide a framework for my daily living but more important is seeking direction from God on a daily basis; listening for His voice; then being obedient and doing whatever He asks of me. (Much easier said than done.) I’m getting better about His interruptions in my plans/goals because I know His ways are better than my ways and I trust that He knows what is best for me.

  4. God is always at work around us, and wants my help. (It’s not that He NEEDS my help; He WANTS my help because He loves me and wants me involved in His kingdom work.) My question should be: Where is God working and where does He want my help? I can make my own plans, but I have to be ready to change them if I see that God’s plan for me is different. And bear this in mind: God is a surprise! He is consistent in His nature–always good–but unpredictable in His behavior. He may very well call me to do something I failed to expect and for which I feel unprepared. He likely will call me to stretch myself and do something that requires me to seek His help in preparation and execution. He is a planner and wants me to be one too, but most of all He wants me to seek Him and know Him and be ready to march off in a new direction even if it was not in my personal plan. (Like moving across the country to serve in a new ministry in an unfamiliar place.)

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