Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will[a] go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. James 4:13-17
When I look at the majority of my life, I see quite clearly that backup plans have always been a thing for me. I am an organized and pretty planned out person by nature, so I am pretty good at coming up with plans and the action steps required to get them accomplished.
My typical approach:
A: The ideal plan: but the hard one to make work-hard to get buy-in for it to work
B: The practical plan: takes some effort but may not fulfill all original goals
C: The “Good ‘Nuf” plan: The one I don’t really like, but will do if no one else buys into the first two and if I just get utterly exhausted trying any more
When it comes to tasks, on the job and such, I think planning can be a good thing, as long as it doesn’t cause us to become inflexible and hard to work with. I think it is part of what we are called to do at work- to be good stewards, to be responsible to our employers and co-workers, and to make the most out of our role within the organization.
But in life, I am finding that my plans aren’t always the Lord’s plans. Actually, it goes even deeper than that. In life, having backup plans for practically everything has been… well….. let’s just call it what it is, shall we? An idol.
“You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3 NKJV
It’s time to let go of the “need” to plan. It’s time to embrace the fact that our security is in the Lord and what He wants us to do. It’s time to surrender all of our preconceived notions and hopes and “plans” to God Almighty when He calls us to do so. And if we listen, He will tell us the steps to take. He will also tell us just how many “plans” to make to carry those plans of His out. This is so hard to do, friends. Sooooo very hard.
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He
will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell
you what is yet to come.” John 16:13 NIV
Yes, we should be wise about what we have and the choices that we make – (i.e. use the wisdom and discernment HE has given to us). Yet at the same time, we cannot be ruled and overtaken by playing it safe as we make our choices if the Lord is calling us to step out and trust in Him in faith. After all, who is smarter? Who is the better planner? He is, after all the Creator of the entire universe!
Sometimes it can seem confusing – that we are called to do both things, right? To be wise and make some plans, yet to live our lives out in faith – sometimes to throw plans right out the window if we find out they are more OUR plans than HIS plans.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 ESV
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” NASB 2 Corinthians 5:7
I don’t really see that Jesus is in favor having backup plans – I don’t see it in the Bible much, if any, and I don’t see it in His interactions with people. I believe that God has one plan, but He reserves the right (as He is completely entitled to) to go about making that plan come to fruition in a multitude of ways. I think sometimes He gives us the freedom to choose from several options too – but not always.
Who am I to even think that my own little plans should have any weight when it comes to His sovereign plans for my life? It’s not my life anymore, it’s HIS. I gave it to Him. Because He owns it. He didn’t take it – He asked for it though. And I am blessed to say I finally gave it over – no more reluctance here! I just forget that sometimes…ha ha.
My plans stand on no foundation whatsoever if I don’t include God in my big picture of how life ought to be! Who am I to think I am even a microscopic co-planner with God? I am not in charge of the plan. But because He says so, I am privileged to be a part of how He wishes to bring those plans about. That, is an honor, dear friends of mine. One we would do well to take quite seriously.
He is our way to salvation. Why shouldn’t He be our way when it comes to the path we follow while we are still here? I think when He says He is the Way, He means in all things. After all, isn’t our life here part of our journey towards eternity? He is using that time we have here to prepare us to come fully into His presence.
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14: 6
” I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8 NASB
The Jesus Plan? Plan A? It’s the only way. It’s where it’s all at!
If God has laid something strongly upon your heart, and your intentions and motivations are pure; made up of the stuff that entails drawing closer to Him, being more in His will, following after Him – then go after it while asking for His guidance every step of the way. But we simultaneously must be willing to change course at any time – He does that sometimes, you know. And this too, is haaaarrrrddddd.
He will make it clear to us if what we are seeking is not a part of His plan for us – He will clear the way if He so desires, and He will thwart our efforts at some point if it is not a part of His will. I truly believe that – as long as we are seeking Him. If we make mistakes, that was part of the plan and we will learn from that. If we are successful and following the path He wanted for us all along, He lets us know. Sometimes, more often than not – for me, at least, it’s a nice stewy little mixture of the two. This breeds humility – and patience – and thankfulness – amongst other things.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” 1 Peter 5:6-7 NKJV
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything
according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14 NIV
He does tell us that it is good to ask for what we desire according to His will. Yet we don’t want to confuse that with trying to pave our own way. Those are two different things, and sometimes it is hard to discern that. If that is happening to you, ask the Lord to give you that discernment and wisdom – ask Him to reveal it to you. That is what becomes more important than which way to go at that point.
This is what I saw myself in the last couple of weeks. I was focusing so much on “do I go this way or do I wait” that I failed to see that what He actually wanted was for me to let go of that and ask for Him to just meet me where I was at. As soon as I did that, He met me – big time. All the rest is starting to fall into place – some things faster than I thought, while others are still not yet revealed. We learn from our mistakes. We learn too from our triumphs.
“For wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul’ discretion will watch over your, understanding will guard you.” Proverbs 2:10-11
This is what I am doing right now in relation to my future employment situation. I am obviously no expert, friends. But I can tell you that I feel free. I truly feel that by relinquishing control, God has taken over the reins of everything – and I feel safer than I really ever have. For now, it seems like His plan – part of it – entails me leaving the job I have had for over ten years, one in which I was doing quite well by the world’s standards. But He could change His mind any moment He so desires as to where I will be going from here. He may even do it just to test me: Really? Does Annie really mean it that she is willing to follow Me and what I have in store for her regardless of what direction she thought it might be going?”
“For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.” Psalm 66:10
But no matter what, God’s plan is always the ideal plan. There are always blooms of new life springing up and growing as we yield to Him and His way of doing things. He doesn’t see it as too lofty a goal to achieve, or too much work to do to get it done. He doesn’t have a backup plan or two in place, “just in case”. God’s kind of ideal plan is far greater than we could ever imagine. There are lots of things that can be done within that plan to fulfill it’s objectives. Again, sometimes He gives us choices as to which of those things He allows us to do. But all are part of His one and only ideal plan for us.
His Plan A – The Best Way.
“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 NIV
My focus is on following after Him and whatever that plan is that He has for me and my family is just fine with me (although it wouldn’t need to be, would it?) Instead of worrying about Plan B or Plan C, I am looking forward to digging deep within God’s plans and living there. Sometimes it may be hard, and other times, He may just decide to make it fun. We don’t know, do we? But any way you cut it, it will be Him, not us who decides. And it will be a blessing.
That makes me feel more secure than any plan I could ever have on my own.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own
understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
Even when it seems hard, remember, we are more important to Him than anything else on this earth. He will take care of us. God wants His plans to come to fruition. He wants them to prosper us and grow us. He wants for us to be inspired, and by submitting, He can flow through us all the easier. Sometimes He allows suffering or trials to enter into the picture to grow us, or bring about something else He requires in His plans, but He always takes care of us. He values us – and He loves us. We are His children.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26
We don’t have to spend all of our time creating backup plans, friends. We are called to fly. We are called to trust. We are called to believe. And we are called to love.
I shall continue to make loose plans for what I think the Lord is leading me to accomplish in life, yes. Everything from how to get all my tasks done for the day, to managing my calendar, to taking steps to determine what direction He wants me to walk in for the day….the next week….the next month….year…..life. But they are loose plans because they need to be flexible – always bendable enough for Him to come in and re-mold the entire project if He so desires. Not conformed to the limited rigidity of this world.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 ESV
Flexibility is an aspect of surrender, isn’t it? To be a great implementor of God’s plans, we must listen, be willing to yield, and then go after what He tells us to with fierce-like force once we know. All the while knowing…..He may stop us mid-stream!
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3
I’m committing – In all in on Plan A, the Jesus Way.
Because my God – My Jesus? He IS the ONLY Way!