"In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps." Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)
I sat with pen in hand, surprised by the words on the page in front of me.
"You will not find my Peace by engaging in excessive planning; attempting to control what will happen to you in the future. This is a commonly practiced form of unbelief." (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling)
Planning is one of the things I do best. I have my list of things to accomplish every day. I have a list of goals in ministry. I even have a bucket list!
Planning is a good thing, right?
However, as I read those words in my devotional book, the Holy Spirit revealed to me the way I must often appear to my Heavenly Father.
There are so many things I want to do. Instinctively I know that God's timing isn't mine, but sometimes my litany of lists are in the hopes that if I work hard enough and plan long enough that God will get on my schedule.
It's not that planning is wrong. With our busy lifestyles, our lists keep us from dropping off our young daughter in a cowgirl costume at the neighbor's house ... when the party is scheduled for the next Friday (yes, it really happened).
But this was a deeper heart issue. How many times did I plan and plan and plan some more, only to be disappointed as my lists got longer and my goals farther away.
My planning was less about organization, and more about worry. I felt more in control if I made lists because I felt like I was doing something.
I sensed God saying, "Lay it down. All the planning, all the worry about how things will work out."
In 1 Peter 5:6-7 we are encouraged that, "God's strong hand is on you; he'll promote you at the right time." In the very next verse, Peter warns us to be aware that, "... the devil is poised to pounce..." (The Message)
It's no accident that Peter shared a promise, but also a warning.
The promise is that God is in control. He knows exactly where He is taking you, and as you trust Him, His promotion may look very different (and far more fulfilling) than your carefully drawn plans.
When we are trapped in excessive planning and things don't work out the way we want, it can create anxiety, frustration, or anger towards God—all traps the enemy would love to use to discourage and distract us.
I didn't stop writing lists. They keep me from forgetting what I need to do.
But I have stopped excessive planning.
God's ways are higher than mine. And if I keep that truth above my planning, then I am open to go in whatever direction God leads.
I didn't have to sign up for Overplanners Anonymous. Instead, the first thing on my plan every day is to simply "trust God."
Dear Lord, I know that being organized is a good thing, but my excessive planning is tied to worry. Today I give You all my cares. You have my future in Your hands. I trust You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Planning is a valuable tool as we map out our day or figure out how to accomplish a huge task. But Jesus often led His disciples to investigate the heart issue beneath their actions. In light of that, ask these questions:
Am I organized or do I plan excessively?
What is my reaction when things don't go as I planned?
Do I believe that God orders my steps?
Take those answers and get alone with God as you hand your future plans to Him.
Luke 12:25-26, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? " (NIV)
Proverbs 16:3, "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." (NIV)