Happy New Year! I know, I’m a couple week late. I took a few weeks away from blogging to relax, refresh, and tackle some projects that I’ve had on my to do list for far too long. But now I’m excited to get back into writing and sharing my thoughts with all of you.
My mind has been swimming with new things, ideas, blog posts I want to write, and goals I’d like to achieve. It’s always fun to have new inspiration and ideas, but also overwhelming. I think I have a hundred different directions I want to go with this blog and my life and no idea how to settle on the “right” plan.
I’m off of work today, so I’ve been reading, watching some Ted Talks and videos, and listening to hours of Podcasts. This isn’t normally how I spend my days off, but it’s been good for me today. One of the videos that I watched talked about Martin Luther King, Jr. Since today is Martin Luther King Jr. day, it’s not surprising that his name has come up dozens of times throughout my day. But the video pointed out that King is famous for his “I Have a Dream” speech, not his “I Have a Plan” speech.
This really spoke to me. Lately I’ve been wrestling over this idea of planning and goals. It is the New Year, so everyone is talking about New Year’s resolutions, goal setting, habit forming, and anything and everything we could do to set ourselves up to create our “best year ever”. It’s always inspiring to think about goals and habits, and I don’t want to minimize that important task. I think that we can always (and should always) be improving and stretching ourselves. Self improvement and mastery help us feel successful, accomplished, and happy in life.
But I recently started noticing a couple verses in the Bible that showed me that maybe making an exact, precise, perfect plan for my life and my future isn’t something I should be striving for at all. James 4:13-16 says “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.” Or Proverbs 16:9 (and many other verses in Proverbs) says, “We can make our plans, bu the Lord determines our steps.”
“I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.” (Jeremiah 10:23). I have no idea what 2015 has in store for me or my family. I don’t have the slightest clue what God plans to do and I don’t want to pretend like I know or think that my ideas are better than His. I know that He can do exceedingly more for me and through me than I could ever ask or imagine, so I certainly don’t want to limit my life with my own plans.
But the Bible also says “Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house.” (Proverbs 24:27) and “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5)
So what are we supposed to do when our head is swimming with ideas and dreams? How do we approach the New Year and decide on plans and goals and visions for our future? What does it look like to balance between the extremes of planning our future with no room for God’s intervention and scrapping planning all together and just haphazardly approaching each day with no plans or decisions to guide us?
“Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.” Psalm 37:3-5
“May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed.” Psalm 20:4
I think the secret to good planning is to bring God in. The secret to finding success, prosperity, and all that our hearts desire is to be so in tune with God that our plans become His plans, our desires become His desires, our dreams become His dreams, our definition of success comes directly from Him.
When we trust God, He will take care of us.
When we pray and listen to God, we will see the right plan.
When we obey God, we will find success.
When we put aside our wishes and commit ourselves to God’s plan, we will find prosperity, fulfillment, and abundance.
This year, when I consider my future, I allow myself to dream, to plan, and to hope. And then I bring those dreams, hopes, and plans to God, over and over again. I lay them down, I talk them over with Him, and I listen for that still, small voice to confirm or redirect. And I say I do this over and over again because I can so easily get caught up in my own dreams that I go off running toward them and step off the path that God has directed me on. It is a daily struggle to make sure that my thoughts align with His, that my wishes align with His, that my plans are the same as His.
Because I know that on my own, I can do nothing. On my own, I will never accomplish these desires that He has placed on my heart. Because on my own, I am weak, I am foolish, and I am hopeless.
I have a dream, just like Martin Luther King Jr. did, but it is just a dream at this point. And there is no amount of precise planning that will make this dream become the reality that God intends. Martin Luther King Jr. had some very incredible dreams, he couldn’t see the hardships involved, though he knew there would be some. He couldn’t see how long it would take, but he had faith that God could make it happen in His perfect timing. He couldn’t see that he would die an early death striving for this cause that shaped his life. But still, he had a dream and he relentlessly pursued this dream with the faith and the trust in the only One who could make his dream a reality.
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.