Typically, each year brings three trips to the eastern Sierras—a May weekend, an October weekend, and four or five days in the summer. 2018 broke the mold. Plans for our granddaughter’s June wedding, which included prepping the house and yard to host the rehearsal dinner, consumed the spring. Summer featured a 6,000 mile motorcycle trip with friends, including an Iron Butt run the first day…1,000 miles on two wheels in 24 hours. The rest of the summer was given to recovering, along with a bunch of yard and house tasks.
That left room for a six day fall trip in late September—Sunday to Friday. I need regular mountain fixes to restore humility and my connection with God, so I highly value these getaways. But the day before departing, our son-in-law’s brother passed, at just 68. On Monday, while in the Sierras, the family announced the service day: Friday at 1 PM. So I cut short the trip, heading home on Thursday. Yeah, life brings surprises. As Robert Burns wrote, “The best laid plans of mice and men, often go astray.”
That reminded me of another saying, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.” Funny, how we tend to think we know life better than God does. Yes, God affirms we need to plan. I found nine passages in Proverbs alone telling us to plan (12:5, 14;22, 15:22, 16:1, 16:3, 16:9, 20:18, 21:5), but the best is 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”
I had plans for the trip, including the number f days and catching a lot of trout. But in five days of wetting a line, I caught a not-so-grand total of 10. Just one worth keeping. So I spent some time walking the stream with the fishing gear left behind, enjoying God’s creative beauty like in the pic above of the stream, just 50 yards from camp. Rather than drifting through life, let’s examine our hearts, our needs, our gifts and abilities, and make some plans.
But may our grasp on them remain loose. May we realize that God directs our lives, and he’s God and we’re not. To steal a line from an old TV series, Father Knows Best. James, the brother of Jesus, echoed that, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:13-15).
Plan, yes. Absolutely. But bring God into the process, and don’t gripe if he works in your life.
Kick Starting the Application
Think about your planning process. How deeply do you involve God in it? How soon? How sure are you that your plans are God’s best for you? Think back to a plan you made, one you really desired, that didn’t work out. How did you respond? What did you learn from it?