Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.
We may make our plans, but God has the last word. – Proverbs 16:1
I think I’m like a lot of military professionals in that I pride myself in being able to make a good plan. After all, I’ve had over 20 years of training and practice in making plan after plan and having them tested, refined, tested again, criticized, tested again, refined and the final test of all, executed. We in the military should be good at making plans, and not just one plan either. We have Plan A, Plan B and Plan C, each of which have branches (contingency plans) and sequels (follow on plans) – all designed to ensure that when we set out to achieve our mission, our execution is robust and effective. The success of our plans in achieving a mission is where the rubber hits the road in the military. It can accelerate or decelerate our careers. It can lead to honor or to shame. Plans are pretty important, and I haven’t restricted my planning only to what I do in the military.
At home I also have taken pains to plan all kinds of things – finances, educating my children, taking leisure time out, maintaining my house, replacing my vehicle, upgrading my stuff and planning for my retirement. It is good to have plans. I think that God wants us to plan and be as prepared as we can for life and its contingencies, but I have recently discovered that there is a drawback to being good at planning…
It turns out that in many of my plans I had kind of forgotten to include God. That’s like planning a sustained battle and kind of forgetting to include supplying ammunition to the troops. It wasn’t that I intended to leave God out, I just got so wrapped up in the importance of my own plans that I forgot to keep a regular check on whether or not my plans for me matched His plans for me. I started down the foolish track of expecting God to conform to my plans. I somehow thought that if I made a plan then God would feel obliged to carry out His part in it. That’s like a platoon commander telling his corps commander that he’s going a different way and could he please reorient his divisions to conform to the platoon plan – only God operates on a much larger scale. When my plans didn’t work out, I became frustrated and irritable, blaming others for their failures and trying to force through my own schemes to little or no avail.
As I write this down, I am even more astounded at how I could have believed that God, the supreme creator of everything, should respond to my plans for me and my family. I’m sure, though, that many of you can relate to this because I think it is in our nature to make our plans and expect God to carry them out, when the truth is that if our plans are not conformed to His plan, then we should expect frustration and failure.
How do I firmly strap my plans to God’s plans then? Well, I have found that to be a little tricky and it includes uncomfortable things like sacrifice, waiting (a lot of waiting) and surrender. I also figure that if I want to do what God wants me to, then I’d better get to know Him better every day. That way I can better align my goals to His. This means more prayer, more reading my Bible and more learning with others who also want to follow God’s plan (I seem to recall hearing that once in Sunday School…).
I still plan (I still think God wants us to plan), but now I don’t develop them past the draft stage because I need to leave room for God to change them. This means that I have to be willing to sacrifice any part or my entire plan whenever God needs me to. This means that sometimes I have long pauses as God closes a door and I need to wait for Him to open the next one. After all, He is a master coordinator with an absolute perspective on all time and space, so I can afford to wait for Him to time something just perfectly. I have my plans, but I have to surrender them to God for correction, cancellation or completion as He sees fit.
I would have thought that this would frustrate me, not to be in control, but God has been gentle with me and has shown me what good comes out of ditching plans A-C and running with Plan G (for God). I don’t get wound up when things don’t work, but wait to see what God does instead of what I had planned. I am getting to see some very clever God moves as I wait instead of trying to force my plan along. I also have to say that there is a whole lot less stress in my life – must be the peace that comes with knowing God is taking care of things.
There is a caution in all of this, though. God’s plan can be radically different to anything you would expect. Over the last 4 years as I have worked to move away from my plan to Plan G, God has taken away the goals of success through wealth and career, and led me to a desire to serve more than I ever have. I recently left an advancing Active Duty career to follow Plan G, and it’s very good, but nothing I could have possibly planned myself.
Questions to Share:
1. What plans do you have for yourself and your family?
2. How much have you included God in those plans? Is He:
a. Intimately involved through prayer, Bible Study and talking to others?
b. Partially involved through occasional requests for assistance?
c. Or, you figure you haven’t been struck by lightning yet so it must be okay with Him.
3. Ask God to help you to conform your plans to His. Expect some loss of control along the way, but also expect to see some very cool things happen as a result of your willingness to follow Plan G.