I am, by nature and by nurture, a planner. I think it’s in my DNA. As far back as I can remember I’ve been inclined in situations to first consider and calculate before committing. For example, after an incident where our family was stranded for lack of gas in the tank, I can remember, even as a small kid, frequently checking the fuel gauge in the car before embarking on a trip to make sure that it was closer to “F” than it was to “E.” My preference would have been to always ensure the needle was on “F” before putting the car in “D.” And this natural propensity developed over the years and eventually it became a marketable skill. Much of my life in the corporate world involved planning, risk mitigation, and execution. So I think I’m kind of wired to start with the end in mind and then figure out what it takes to get there.
But though it’s how I prefer to do life, I was reminded this morning that natural propensities need to subject themselves to divine realities. That reliable methods and predictability need always to be in the context of an Almighty God and His sovereignty.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”–yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15 ESV)
If the Lord wills.
I can plan . . . I can purpose . . . I can prepare. But at the end of the day, says James, it is the Lord’s will that prevails. And in that, there is great freedom and rest.
It’s not fatalism . . . some passive resignation that things are out my hands and so “what will be will be.” In fact, it’s not about “what will be” at all . . . but all about “Who is.” And my God has made Himself known as the great “I AM!”
James doesn’t exhort me to simply resign myself but instead to recognize my God. Aware that His hand and purposes are in the affairs of all life . . . mine included.
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.
(Proverbs 16:9 ESV)
There’s still a place for goals and outcomes, for assessment and risk mitigation, for planning and purposeful execution, but it is all to be placed under the acknowledgement that God provides the power. That by His grace and through His Spirit according to His determination, I can say, “Today or tomorrow I will do this or that . . . if the Lord wills.”
And it is only as it aligns with God’s purposes that we realize our plans.
Many are the plans in a mans heart, but it is the LORDs purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21 ESV)
So who am I to think that God should so care about what I do? I am a trophy of His grace . . . I am a sheep of His flock . . . I am a member of His body . . . I am child adopted into His family . . . that in whatever I do, and in all that I do, I should willingly submit it to His will that it might all be done for His glory (1Cor. 10:31, Col. 3:23).
I am planner. By nature . . . by nurture . . . and in newness of life. That whatever I seek to do, it might be if the Lord wills.
Because of grace . . . for His glory.