The Futility and Necessity of Plans

“Plans are nothing, but planning is everything.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

“I give this to take with you:  Nothing remains as it was.  If you know this, you can begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting.” – Judith Minty

“We make our own plans, but the LORD decides where we will go.” – Proverbs 16:9 CEV

“Even a courageous person’s steps are determined by the LORD, so how can anyone understand his own way?” – Proverbs 20:24 CSB

Like cattle being branded on a western ranch, there are things in life that have a way of permanently marking us – leaving a scar that reminds us of who we are and where we now belong.

For me, the intensity and determination of following a plan that eventually shattered into a million pieces scarred me like a branding iron – leaving a mutilating blemish on my dreams.  Following this plan was my only focus and within it was every hope I had held for my life since childhood.  I am in no way embellishing or exaggerating when I say that planning almost killed me.  The scar it left will always be a part of me – making me skittish of crafting any kind of definitive plans moving forward.

But as President Eisenhower suggests, isn’t planning everything?  Shouldn’t we have hopes and dreams that require formulating a strategy of how they can be attained?  If we do plan a course based on our dreams, how do we hold on to it loosely – knowing as Judith Minty points out that nothing remains the same?  If we take a nonchalant approach to our plans, how will they ever come to pass without diligent, committed effort on our part?

I guess there is both a futility and a necessity to planning.  We need to chart a course and head a direction, but at the same time be willing to take a 180 degree turn at any moment.

How do we navigate within such a paradox?  As the verse in Proverbs states, how can any of us understand our own way?

Trust me.  Based on my history, I’ve thought quite deeply about this 😊 Here is what I’ve determined to be the best course of action when it comes to plans:

EMBRACE THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE

When I developed my own grand plan of life and strategized about what it would take to accomplish it, I forgot one very important fact:  My life was not my own.

So often, we fail to realize our lives are a gift – given to us with specific purpose and intention.  That purpose and intention is centered in God’s will.  He is determining our next steps and actions in order to fulfill that purpose – a plan that He designed individually for us from the beginning.

Those purposes are often counter to normal earthly goals and ambitions.  In other words, God is less interested in our plans for early retirement, wealth accumulation, or our ease and comfort in this life.  He is more interested in shaping who we become – molded through the testing of our faith, encountering challenges, and suffering through life’s difficulties.  This is when we grow and change.

When you think about it, personal growth doesn’t surface in a comfortable setting.  When we remain in our comfort zone, we stay the same.  When life is nothing but a bowl of cherries, what can be learned or how can we grow?

Thank God we can make our plans, yet He determines our steps!  I would NOT be the same person I am today had my own plans come to fruition.  A sovereign God was in control and had other intentions for me and my personal growth.

When you look back on your own life, what personal plans or dreams you once held close seemed to have hit a dead end?  Can you see God’s purposes within those circumstances now?  Did the detour or change of plans send you a new direction that changed your life in a positive way?  If you are struggling with the changes, rest assured that God is at work – in total control of all that is unfolding.

When your own plans and intentions come crashing down, embrace God’s sovereignty over all things.  Remember your life is not your own.  His plans and His ways are perfect – setting you on a course to fulfill your purpose and destiny in this world and preparing you for what lies ahead.

“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’” – Isaiah 46:10 NIV

WITH REVERENCE, INVITE GOD INTO YOUR PLANNING

 Your life is a gift, but so is your ability to make choices.  Free will gives us the ability to plot our own course and set the direction of our lives if that is what we wish.  But knowing that God is sovereign and that He has a definitive plan and purpose for our lives, we need to craft our plans with Him in mind.

“Trust in and rely confidently on the LORD with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.   In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].” – Proverbs 3: 5-6 Amplified Bible

Look what happened to Jonah when he decided to head the opposite direction of Nineveh – a place where God directed him to go?  After much trouble and consternation, he ended up there anyway 😊 

If we ask for God’s guidance and direction in our planning, He won’t disappoint us!

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7 NIV

“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask from God, the One giving generously to all and not finding fault, and it will be given to him.” – James 1:5 BLB

 “The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” – Psalm 37: 23-24 NIV

When I think back to my own plans, I realize how foolish I was to set a course for my life without seeking God’s guidance and His direction.  If I would have slowed down and sought His advice, I would have seen the error in my ways.  I think about the hardships I could have avoided!  I see the undue pain and hurt I caused myself and others – realizing in hindsight how it could have been prevented.

When setting a course, get God involved upfront – eliminating any unnecessary detours or failures.  He promises us to guide us in the paths He has planned for us!

SEE CHANGE AS POSITIVE INTERVENTION

“For from Him [all things originate] and through Him [all things live and exist] and to Him are all things [directed].” – Romans 11:36 Amplified Bible

If God is sovereign and He directs our steps, then any kind of change (positive or negative) is a sign of His intervention and redirection.  He is up to something deeper and filled with positivity (Romans 8:28) for us in the longer term.  We can trust in His love and grace for us as plans change.

You see my friend, circumstances, events, or situations can alter our plans, but God NEVER changes.  His purposes stand and His purposes for us will prevail 😊

 “The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me. O LORD, Your loving devotion endures forever…” – Psalm 138:8 BSB

May each of us honor God’s plan for our lives, earnestly seek it out, and be flexible and trusting when life moves us a new direction.  God bless!

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