The world revolves around plans. You plan your trip through traffic to get to work. You plan your class schedule for school. You plan what groceries you are going to buy for dinner. Everyone’s calendar is filled with appointments and events. Without planning, society would be one unmanageable, chaotic mess!
Plans can be a really good, advantageous thing. Most of us have big plans for our future, because most of us are always thinking ahead. As a Christian, how do we know that the plans we have are lined up with what God wants for us? Do we have complete control over what we want or do we have some conferring to do with God first?
The book of Proverbs has some great council concerning the plans we make for ourselves. King Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs. He is considered the “wisest man on earth.” In 1 Kings 3:5, God appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask what you wish Me to give you.” So, Solomon asked for wisdom; “an understanding heart to judge [God’s] people between good and evil” (v. 9). This pleased the Lord and He granted Solomon’s request. The Lord said, “Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you” (v. 12). I think it’s safe to say that we can trust Solomon’s wise teachings on this subject.
“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD” (Proverbs 16:1)
“Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established” (v. 3)
“The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps” (v. 9)
“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (v. 25)
These four verses are packed full of some amazing truths and promises. Solomon understood that a person is inevitably going to plan. He addresses that fact in verse one. But, he’s quick to point out that in the end, God has the final answer. His sovereignty “rules over all” (Psalm 103:19); and yes, that includes me and you! We can map out the next 10 years of our life, but God’s plans for us will prevail.
Oftentimes, we make plans for ourselves according to what we want and need. How many times do our plans explicitly revolve around God? Verse three tells us that if we commit our works to the Lord, He will establish them. Ava Pennington put it nicely: “If our desire is truly to glorify God, He will always provide us a way to do it.” Maybe that’s why so many of our plans fail; they aren’t designed to glorify God in the first place. If we want our plans to succeed, we must make sure they are aligned with God’s heart and will. Matthew Henry said, “The great concerns of our souls must be committed to the grace of God, with a dependence upon and submission to the conduct of that grace.”
Verse nine is pretty straight-forward. We plan, God directs us. Just as if we were to enter a street address into our GPS system in our car and have it guide us to that location, God will guide us to where He wants us to go. Henry said of this, “If men devise their way, so as to make God’s glory their end and his will their rule, they may expect that he will direct their steps by his Spirit and grace, so that they shall not miss their way nor come short of their end.” Awesome!
Finally, Solomon gives us a warning in verse twenty-five. Sometimes, we may truly believe that the plans we make and the decisions we make are the right ones. But, sometimes we’re wrong. Selfishly focusing on something or hastily coming to a decision, without wise council or affirmation, will lead to dire consequences. Remember, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). We must be extremely careful when planning. Seeking God’s guidance and spiritual advice from others is a must.
Jeremiah sums it up perfectly: “This is what the LORD says: ‘Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve’” (Jer. 17:5-10).
You know that saying, “Be careful what you wish for”? If we make plans for ourselves and force our own way outside of God’s will, we may end up getting what we want, but it won’t make us happy. God has our absolute best interest in mind (Jer. 29:11) and wants us to trust Him for that (Prov. 3:5-6).
Whether you plan out the next 10 years of your life or only have tomorrow in mind, God hold’s your future in His hands. He gives us the ability to make our own decisions and make choices based off of what we know and believe. But, He also has a specific plan for us all and that should give us confidence in our day-to-day and long-term plans.