January Theme: New
Old Plans: Proverbs 16:3 & 9
New Plans: Proverbs 3:5-6; 4:26 & 16:1
We’ve begun talking about “newness” this New Year and in our first study we didn’t talk about a New Year’s Resolution. I suppose it’s because there are different schools of thought on the matter – some make them, some don’t. But if you’re like me you may have made a list of goals you’d like to accomplish this year. Your 2009 Things to Do List.
Last year I read an awesome little book by Rev. Robert Schuler called “Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do.” And even though it was written in the 80’s you would have thought Rev. Schuler was writing it for today. In it he talks about making a plan with God for every thing you want to accomplish.
About that same time, my Bishop mentioned an illustration in one of his lessons in which he told his son to always make a plan for any issue he was battling – even if it was for something as simple as affording tires for his car.
Now mind you – I am a planner! I can plan the heck out of anything! And for years now I had been living off of Proverbs 16:9 “Man devises his plan, but God directs his steps”. Now when I say I had been living off of this scripture, I mean I had been using it to bend God’s will towards mine. How do you think that worked for me?
You see, early on in my walk with Christ – before discovering Proverbs 16:9, I would make a plan, follow the plan until I hit an obstacle, quit the plan and wonder why the plan didn’t work or wasn’t “meant to be.” After discovering the scripture in Proverbs I thought it was the key that answered why my plans didn’t work and I changed my mode of operation – slightly.
I felt that God definitely wanted me to make my plans, but that I had left out an important step towards assuring those plans would work. So then I made a plan and fervently, diligently prayed to God that He order my steps, direct my path and essentially work it all out. How do you think that worked for me as well?
Maybe I had missed out and skipped over Proverbs 16:3 – “Commit thy works unto the Lord and He will establish your thoughts”? After all, it does come before 16:9. Perhaps I hadn’t committed my plan to the Lord, and therefore He couldn’t establish my thoughts of accomplishing that plan. Here’s how I adjusted my process again: I committed each new plan to the Lord by promising to do it all for Him and act righteously in all my dealings so as to be a shining example of Him. Then I made my plan and prayed that He direct my steps. Once again, I would begin the plan, hit an obstacle, stop the plan and wonder what had gone wrong and why God’s promises didn't apply to me.
Ultimately that nonsense began to stop me from making a plan at all – fearful of failing yet and fearful of friends and family seeing me start something and never finish it yet again. For months I became stagnant, lost and even more confused than ever. Then I read Dr. Schuler’s book which said, in essence, to make your plan with God - to pray about your plan and to pray about making your plan. Honestly, it seemed so obvious that I swore I had already been doing it. I went back to Proverbs for more answers and here’s what I found in the highlighted portions of my previously studied scriptures:
Proverbs 3: 5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 4:26 “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.” Also Proverbs 16:1 “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” All my plans had been according to my own understanding. But if I lean not unto my own understanding, then I have to acknowledge God before making that plan - and that is when He will utilize and organize my thoughts and direct my heart in making that plan. This is how I (as in, mankind) must devise a plan, and that is how God can order my steps according to that plan.
Finally, I got it - I cannot make my plans all by myself. Once I pondered the (many) paths of my feet, I realized I had not let God establish my ways - I had established my own ways for myself (no matter how generally good and sound they were) and I had begged God to agree.
So this time I prayed to God to guide me in making a plan. I prayed to Him for that plan and expressed my deep need for a plan from Him. And guess what? God gave me a plan! A clear, purposeful plan of action – step by step! You see, when I stopped making plans I started building a relationship with God. My communication began to be a dual, mutual, back and forth, two-way conversation with the Lord. I realize I couldn’t just talk to Him and tell Him what I wanted, I had to listen to Him and hear what He has purposed.
So now I’ve got this plan and admittedly, I am gun-shy about pursuing it. What if it doesn’t work out? What if I hit another obstacle? What if it really isn’t God’s plan at all? But here’s the truth of the matter – God’s plan cannot fail. Why? Because God cannot lie and He said if I acknowledge Him in ALL my ways (even the way in which I make a plan), He WILL direct my paths. And also, with God’s plan there automatically comes a way to overcome the obstacles. Why? Because when God gives you the plan it absolves you from the responsibility of it not working out. It becomes clear now that obstacles are from the enemy trying to keep you from your goal, or from your own flesh that believes and perpetuates the lies and misunderstandings others believe about you, and not from the Lord telling you that you are going in the wrong direction.
God does have a direction for you to go! And, He is so willing to give it to you if you ask - acknowledge Him and do not try to do it all yourself and unto your own understanding. Trust me - God is a planner! He can plan the heck out of anything - literally! Just ask Noah regarding that daggone boat and all those animals...
So, this New Year and every one after that – go ahead and make your “things to do list” but make sure you pursue the things GOD SAID to do on that list and watch as He establishes all your ways.
In HIS will,
© 2008 Deidre Campbell-Jones