Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16)
So does God not want us to plan? Not at all. God just wants to be part of the process. He us to remember that He is sovereign in all things and when we plan, remember it is God who is in control, not us.
The scriptures give some great questions to ask ourselves as we plan.
- Did we pray about our plans, searching the scriptures for God’s wisdom?
- Are we seeking advice from godly trusted friends? Are we open to what they are telling us?
- Did we consider how our plans affect others? Is this a win-win or will my plans need others to be inconvenienced, hurt, or devalued? My dear friend Sue Taylor’s moto comes to mind: Fun isn’t fun unless it’s fun for everyone.
- When working with others, do we fret over their success?
- Are we manipulating others? Are we being devious? Are we pushing our way, trying to control situations out of our control?
- Although we trust God’s in control, are we still working hard to make our plans succeed?
- If our plans are not working out, are we looking for the good and the God in the situation? Or are we whining and complaining that we are not getting our way?
God never promised that everything will work out in this life. No, Jesus specifically promised: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Will we trust God anyway?
Sometimes our plans work out great, like a recent Saturday morning when my brother and I enjoyed taking the ferry into Manhattan. The weather was perfect and our time together sweet.
when our cousin Susan planned a business trip to the top of the World Trade Center and it ended with her name engraved in bronze around a massive square pool. Why? Certainly that will be a question I will ask Jesus when I see Him. But when I embrace Susan again in His presence, perhaps the whys will not matter.
I have been frustrated and responded in anger over thwarted vacation plans and botched dinners. I have wept over career plans gone awry and family dreams that had to die. I found that trusting God is sweeter while I am waiting. Trusting God brings peace during tragic loss. Trusting God allows me to see and enjoy His great and unexpected gifts.
Jesus, help me trust You more. Help me to see what You are doing in the earth and plan with an eye towards Your glory.
For more on this, see James 4:13-5:6, Psalm 38:1-8, Proverbs 19:20-24