I’m tad bit OCD.
So to me, plans are a tad bit attractive.
I don’t just love planning; I love planning plans. Heck, I love planning plans to plan plans.
I see some nice plans and have to use my index finger to lower my shades to my nose and wink at them real quick. Dat plan. So organized, dotted points, crisp border, slick font, arrows, boxes and circles. I like all of dat.
Small talk with people goes in this flow when I’m behind the wheel.
This is a given:
What’s your name?
Gotta get a feel of who this person actually is so I hit them with a quick:
What do you do?
Last but not least regardless of age, I ask them:
What’s the goal?
What do I mean?
Where are you headed?
What do you wanna do if you could fast forward time.
What is IT?
More times than I can count this three-step friendly interrogation process has branched out into vast conversations about life, love, family, dreams, etc.
My favorite type of people are the ones who, when asked about their life plans, give you a 20-page, well-thought-out oral dissertation regarding their next 5 years.
WEEEELLLLL, first, I’m gonna work for my Uncle So-and-So’s company for a year,
- then I’m gonna save umpteen amount of dollars ,
- then I’m going to Blahblah Tech,
- then I’m gonna bridge over to University of Whatchamacallit,
- then I’m gonna graduate and get a job in Downtown Place,
- then I’m gonna work for 3 years,
- then I’m gonna go back and get my Masters in That Thing,
- and then I’ll retire in Funk, Nebraska. (real place by the way)
I know this dissertation was satirical and super vague but when people do give me articulate plans, I’m floored.
“I like that you have this all planned out!” I’m genuinely excited for them. There’s nothing like knowing a human whose future, unlike mine, is high beamed. It’s amazing.
‘Cuz my future was once well lit, clear cut, and communicable.
18-year-old Bible College Freshman me was gonna drop out in a year, go to a “real school,” get an accounting degree, work in a corner office, marry a dime, roll out male and female mini-mes, vacation once a year, age, and then die hand-in-hand with said dime on a tiny nursing home bed. (All of that was real except the dying. It’s too late to backspace. We’ve come too far.)
- I prayed for my plans.
- I believed in my plans.
- God knew my plans.
I also knew that if you “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:4
Come on now, nah! It’s in the good book!
My plans are bound to come to pass.
That’s cute. It really is.
The truth is that when I meet a person with planned out plans, a part of me is happy that they have goals and another part of me prays that they don’t lose it if God doesn’t help them accomplish them. Disappointment is one thing. Disappointment in God is a whole other topic. I’ve been there. It’s easy to feel like God has failed you when, in fact, He’s never failed anyone.
Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”
Turn off your laptop or phone and carry on.
You don’t have to keep reading this (but you are and I thank you.)
The writer of that verse was a man named Solomon.
He was the richest, wisest man to ever walk the earth. He had it all but dedicated time to write a whole book called Ecclesiastes about how meaningless it all was.
The ORIGINAL billionaire, playboy, philanthropist did it all and was discontent with it all.
I’m sure along the way he experienced different aspects of life that humbled him to his experience. Heartbreak, pain, suffering, illness, loss. We don’t know what it is, but we know that it lead him to conclude that with all his planning, manning, spending, and power, there was still a being who had the last say. That was God. The Creator of his life, mine and yours.
I’m thankful that God didn’t/doesn’t answer all of my prayers.
Oh my gosh, that’d be a tragedy. He’s so patient and kind to us, even though we’re not always to Him.
The most satisfied people I’ve talked to are the ones whose lives are surrounded by broken plans.
- I was going to this school, but I lost my scholarship.
- We were dating, but it didn’t work out.
- I was working there, but I was randomly released.
A part of you wants your plans to work. They could be sin-free and selfless but God is directing your steps, my friend.
A lot of times I’ve caught up with people whose plans were broken but they turned around for the good.
- I ended up going to this school and I enjoyed it more than ever.
- I met this guy/girl who was a better fit for me than I could have even imagined.
- I was let go from there but God blessed me with another job that was better than my last.
So does God.
If He’s wrecking yours, then maybe that’s because they weren’t His.
My most recent life plans hit a brick wall at 90 MPH.
They weren’t good, they were great.
They weren’t me-centered, they were God-focused.
They were it.
“Psych.” – God 2016
Here I am though.
I know I’m not alone.
A part of me has been hoping that Ashton Kutcher and 3 camera men would run out from behind a wall and go,
“Shama you just got Punk’D! We’ve been onto you since January 1st of this year. Everything you went through was set up by us!”
“You got me there!”
I’d scream out, as I’m doubled over on my knees crying laughing while occasionally getting up to see more friends, ex-friends, family, leaders, and acquaintances bust out from behind a wall to smirk, finger-gun point, and pat me on the back.
(You can tell that I’ve thought a lot about this scenario. That’s how I want it to go.)
It’s a whole lot easier than confessing that, “God wrecked my plans.”
That’s what He did though.
- Cheer up! I can’t.
- God’s got a better plan for you! I thought that was it.
- Keep on trusting Jesus! I never stopped.
The pastor of City Church Seattle (and nay, I say, my current pastor), Judah Smith, has been doing an appropriately named series called “The Truth About Following Jesus.”
One Sunday, while I attended service on my MacBook, in the comfort of pajamas lying in bed, he said a sentence that has rattled my core.
He set it up with the reading of the story of Jesus and His disciples on a boat.
Read it intentionally and I’ll wrap it up with a side of observations.
35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”
Note: Jesus suggests they cross to the other side.
36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.
37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat so that the boat was already filling.
38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
Sidebar: Jesus is sleeping on a cushion in what scholars assume is a small boat that could hold no more than 13 men, only to be awakened for reasonable cause by His followers.
39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
You might be following Jesus if you’re in the middle of a storm.
That’s all Judah Smith had to say to me.
The truth is, there is a storm hitting my boat and I highly doubted that Jesus had even asked me to “cross to the other side.”
- Following Jesus was never guaranteed to be easy, but it’s safe. (Psalms 33:18)
- We’re not guaranteed the path of least resistance. (Matthew 7:13-14)
- A lot of times, it goes against our plans. (Proverbs 16:9)
I might not know who you are, but I took time off from writing this to pray for you. I pray that God’s plans will be clear to you. I pray that your heart heals when God breaks you and deters you on His path. I pray that you will learn to put God first and trust Him regardless of whether He’s sleeping in the boat of your current storm. He loves you, friend.
I still do.
They’re His plans.
No, I don’t know what they are.
No, I’m not happy with where I am now. But I’ve done life on my own and that’s a mistake that’s not worth repeating.
I paid your dumb tax, too, while I was out there. You’re good.
One of the easiest ways to get on God’s path is by learning about Him. Reading the Bible. Asking God for help, guidance, grace and direction. Pray Scripture over yourself. If I read a verse that I’m failing in, I pray that God would help live it or be like that person I read about, etc. It’s encouraging. I sing along to worship music.
Ultimately I want to make God’s thoughts my thoughts, so that His path is my path and my goals take the back seat and His goals drive.
Cool analogy. It’s like seeing one of those abstract painters who throws, wipes, sprinkles, flicks and dots paint on a canvas. While you’re confused on what it’s going to be, the guy flips it however which way and you see the picture and it makes sense.
In hindsight, it’ll make sense.
All of it?
All of it.
God is a truther.
I just want you to always remember that God plans.
God’s plans take different accelerations, stops, turns and occasional roadblocks. It requires patience, patience, and sometimes a little more patience. The trip is fueled by faith. It might just come down to you and God at times but the whole ordeal is beautiful.
You never actually make it “There” either.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that Life/Ministry/Careers/Friendships/The Future is a all one trip of trips with many anticipated and occasionally unwanted checkpoints. The checkered flag is at eternity.
How we spend our days is how we live our lives, and how we live our lives determines how we’ll spend eternity. That sounds dumb, I know. When was the last time you thought about your eternity though?
The following verses have both mended and torn me. I’ve read them, written them, quoted them, cried over them, prayed over them, and more times than I can remember, quoted them and cried while praying them.
It’s unreal. It’s done literal work on my heart, soul and mind. II Corinthians 4
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Friend, plans are seen. Paul urged us to look not to the things that are seen because they’re transient, temporary, short-lived, short-term, impermanent, brief, fleeting, passing, here today and gone tomorrow.
That’s why we are to look to the unseen. It’s forever.
You find it. You lock your sights on it. You work backwards from it. You orient your life around eternity. It’ll ultimately mold what you watch, what you listen to, who you befriend, where you go, how you work, where you work, how you save, how you spend and so much more.
We get to play a very small, very short part in God’s great story of Earth.
It’s all about Him.
Paul was witnessing to some pagans and hit them with this–
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’”
- You get to plan because HE lets you.
- You live because HE lets you.
- You become because HE lets you.
I’m typing this sentence because there’s a God in heaven who has blessed me with the physical capability to do so.
The moment you set the focus on your plan and how “important” it is and how it’s “supposed” to be or how you “expected” it to go, you’ve missed the bigger picture.
Stephen Witmer once wrote in a Desiring God blog post about singleness,
If you hold a coin close enough to your face, it will obscure an entire city skyline.
God slapped away every coin I held so close to my face this year.
Low-key, I hope and pray He does the same to you.
Don’t miss it.
Not gonna lie, plans are still super attractive to me, but knowing whose they really are, that they’re subject to change, and that one can’t just control them–well, that’s to die for.
If you scrolled down this far, thank you.
Here’s an awesome Jewish proverb I found on google 😉