God’s plans will always be greater and more beautiful than all your disappointments
There are many plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s plan that will stand.
– Proverbs 19:21 (NLV)
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
– Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)
This past week, I drove past this sign outside a local church every day to and from work. I thought a few times about posting a picture of it to Facebook with the caption “What is wrong with this image?” for some fake Internet points. I felt the sign was preposterous in thinking we can plan what God will do.
However, over the course of that week, I discovered that I was doing exactly that. I wasn’t planning on what God would do, but I was dictating to God on what I would do and what He would do through me. This past week, I had most of my days not go exactly as planned. Also, I developed some longer term plans that now look like they will not work out. By the end of the week, I was getting just a tad frustrated. For the most part, what actually happened was beneficial in the short and long view, but I didn’t see it that way at first.
At the end of the week, I realized that life behaves very similarly to video games – in particular, “themepark” video games. These types of video games tell a semi-rigid story. The player can fight against the creator of the video game and chose their own path and plan. Yet if they want to finish it, they will eventually follow one of the predetermined paths to the conclusion.
Furthermore, the player isn’t shown the entire path of the video game at one time. All that they are given is the next “mission” or “quest.” These missions and quests require that the player make mini-plans or prepare for them. The good ones will also throw change-ups throughout the mission that require players to deviate from their previous plans; players typically think that these twists make the game better. A video game without any surprises is very boring.
I believe that the Christian should not make long term, detailed plans. At the same time, everyone is called to prepare themselves for the next step God has on their journey; the next “mission” God has for them. (Jesus mentions in Matthew 25 that those that are not prepared will be left outside of His blessings.) An old chess teacher once told me, “Plan 2 moves ahead; don’t plan for the endgame.” Likewise, we should prepare ourselves for the next God-given quest while expecting Him to change it towards His will. We should leave the long-term planning to God.
A few notes:
- Some may mention that God asks us to be good stewards and good stewards should “plan” for long term saving and management. I believe that we shouldn’t “plan” long term, but rather continue to save and manage what God has given us every day with proper stewardship.
- A long-term, vague vision for an individual or group is not the same as a plan. They should not be detailed at all and are just a general direction you believe God has for your life or group.
- Detailed prophets’ visions are the exception to the above rules: they are direct God given plans. These prophecies are fairly rare.