patience, presence, and step three: PLANS //

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” –Proverbs 19:21.

The third in my series. First patience, then presence, then plans.

We all make them. And they are usually laid out with the best intentions. We plan things as small as what we’re going to eat for dinner, and as large as our careers. We plan what we’re going to do this weekend, and what we hope to do for the next five years. We plan our future moments every day, sometimes more than we care to admit.

And it’s really easy to bring God into the planning process on spiritual issues. Sure, we always take his teaching into account when something isn’t right in our spiritual journey. But what about all the other times? What about all of the everyday decisions in our lives? Is he present in our minds in the everyday planning?

If you’re like me, you struggle with this too. It’s easy to remember to “include” God in our planning process when we’re planning for the big things, the “important life things” that usually involve some sort of spiritual crisis. But when it comes to the everyday decisions, we often find it a lot easier to leave God out of the picture altogether, whether or not that is an intentional act.

What about when our plans are interrupted?! What do we do then??

Let me pass on some wisdom I read today. “Sometimes it takes an interruption of our perfect plan to start the life that’s perfect for us.”

Couldn’t have said it better if I’d tried. Sometimes I think God likes to interrupt our “perfect” plans just to remind us of how imperfect our planning abilities really are in comparison to His.

I know what you’re thinking. Meagan, why do I have to make any plans if God is just going to fix my steps anyway??

First, the Bible says we are allowed and even encouraged to make plans, but that ultimately the Lord’s Plan will prevail. 

And second, God calls us to be active Now. We are not called to be idle in the waiting time. In fact, we are called to just the opposite. We can’t just sit around until God appears with our future laid out before us. We have to press on in the waiting times in hopes that he will come with our next step at some point in the future. We cannot be idle in the waiting.

The Bible does not treat idleness well. Ecclesiastes 10:18 explains the results of idleness: “Through laziness, the rafters sag; because of idle hands, the house leaks.” Essentially, the overall definition of idleness in the Bible is undisciplined slackness. This is the exact opposite of diligence, which is what the Bible actually commends us to. Diligence is defined as careful and persistent work or effort. Unlike idleness, the Word has good things to say about diligence: “The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.” –Proverbs 12:24. And, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”  –Proverbs 13:4.

Idleness gives the impression that there is nothing to be done that is worthy of our time. But as long as there are people who need to hear the Gospel and people to whom we need bear witness, there will Always be work to be done for the Kingdom.

Second Thessalonians 3:11 says, “We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.” I love how this verse calls out busybodies. I for one am so guilty of this. I tend to get really caught up in the moment without really living in the moment, which makes me a busybody. Rather than being idle “busybodies” (people who stay “busy” while making no real progress for the Kingdom), we need to be getting busy doing real work for the Kingdom.

So we can’t be idle because idleness implies there’s nothing in the present we should be doing, but we also have to be careful not to make too many plans about forever because God may have different ones for us. Like I said, it’s a balancing act. And it comes down to trust.

We trust that God has our best interests at heart. We trust that God has his hand in our lives. We trust that he will step in when we take a wrong turn. We trust that he will redirect our paths.

So what are WE supposed to do then??

I read something last night that really spoke into this. It said that the most important thing to determine is what to do right now.

Right now. Notice it did not say to determine what to do tomorrow, or the next day, or even the next year. Right now. Instead of focusing on the next thing, we need to be focusing on the current moment and what we can be doing for the Kingdom NOW.

This all goes back to patience and presence (oh look a connection PATIENCEPRESENCE). If we are patient in the waiting and present in the current moment, then God will shape our plans to match his and then reveal them to us in his own time.

We have to trust God to show us what to do when we are finished with our current task. He will guide us step by step. All we have to do is follow.

And trust me, this is way easier said than done. Coming from the queen of planners and calendar reminders, I know how hard it is to let God take complete control of our lives. I really think it just takes time, and again, patience. Time to see how God shapes our plans to match His, and patience to see how it all unfolds. There have been so many times in my life where if I had just been a little more patient and trusting, I would have realized that God had the situation all under control the whole time, and that while I was being a busybody, he was busy redirecting my steps and shaping my path. I am reminded time and time again that my way is not The Way. I think we all need to be reminded of that.

The planning problem can also be especially hard if you’re in high school or college. In high school, when the adults ask you to decide where you’re going to school, they’re also basically asking you to decide what you’re going to do for the rest of your life–but they usually don’t say this to your face. The only difference when you get to college is that in college, they actually Do say it to your face. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked “what I want to do with my life” or “what is my five-year plan.” And to be honest, it is quite exhausting dodging these questions, because the more they ask, the more I get worried that I should have a plan. The more they ask, the more it feels like I should be operating on my own plan. The more they ask, the less secure I feel about the fact I’m riding on God’s plan and not my own. And I know that is not anyone’s intention when they ask me what I want as my career, but trust me, when you hear it enough, that’s where your mind starts to go (fellow college students can I get an amen?).

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished. By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil. When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” –Proverbs 16:1-9

Verse 9. Could not have said it better if I tried. The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Think about that for a second. No matter where our clueless human hearts plan to take us, God ultimately will redirect our steps so that we end up where we are supposed to be. How awesome is that?!

•••

So go. Don’t be idle. Make a plan. Set a goal. But trust that the Lord will come in and redirect your plan when it gets off of His course. And remember what a blessing it is that we have someone always looking out for our best interests, because even though we think we are, we can rest assured that God knows our ultimate path and will not let us stray too far from it!

His plans are GOOD. They are not to harm us, but to give us hope and a FUTURE (Jeremiah 29:11). He wants to give you and me a greater future than we could ever create for ourselves. The Word says we have to stop worrying about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself–Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:34). In other words, why waste today worrying about tomorrow when we should just be investing our efforts today on Today?! 

Per usual, I am reminded of a song. This one is particularly powerful, and so good I just had to share the whole thing, because I feel like everyone needs to hear it. It shares a powerful message of submitting to God’s Will and Plan. The absolute best line in this song? “Sometimes I gotta stop, and remember that You’re God, and I am not.” I don’t know about you, but I definitely needed to be reminded of this today.

“I’m so confused

I know I heard you loud and clear

So, I followed through

Somehow I ended up here

I don’t wanna think

I may never understand

That my broken heart is a part of your plan

When I try to pray

All I’ve got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done

Thy will be done

Thy will be done

I know you’re good

But this don’t feel good right now

And I know you think

Of things I could never think about

It’s hard to count it all joy

Distracted by the noise

Just trying to make sense

Of all your promises

Sometimes I gotta stop

Remember that you’re God

And I am not

So Thy will be done

Thy will be done

Thy will be done

Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is

Thy will be done

Thy will be done

Thy will

I know you see me

I know you hear me, Lord

Your plans are for me

Goodness you have in store

I know you hear me

I know you see me, Lord

Your plans are for me

Good news you have in store

So, thy will be done

Thy will be done

Thy will be done

Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is

Thy will be done

Thy will be done

Thy will be done

I know you see me

I know you hear me, Lord”

—Hillary Scott & the Scott Family

xoxox

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