Planning is generally perceived as being a good thing; Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!‘ Planning has formed the heart of many a government (perhaps the most famous being Joseph Stalin’s 5-year plans) and individuals are often encouraged to make such long-term plans in order to be focussed and achieve goals. Nonetheless, whilst in principle it can be good to make plans (most of what we do needs a certain amount of preparation and planning!), we need to understand that there is a limit to our knowledge and therefore to our plans. God’s plans, on the other hand, last a lot longer than five years and because He knows everything, are never derailed by circumstances! (see Gen 3:14-15, Rom 8:28-30, 1 Cor 2:6-8).
Our planning is often limited by our inability to see far, but God does not have this problem. In Gen 39:20-23 we see that God’s hand was on Joseph, even in adverse circumstances; this period in his life demonstrates very clearly the truth of Prov 19:21 (‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.’) So often, we see God accomplishing great things through ordinary people who may not have had any ‘grand plan’ to change the world but whose obedience and willingness to journey by faith meant great things were accomplished (e.g. Jackie Pullinger’s ministry in Hong Kong and David Wilkerson’s ministry among the gangs in New York.) This reminds us of Abram, who was called by God to journey to destinations unspecified (Gen 13:14-17). We may feel that such ‘wanderings’ showed a lack of planning and therefore a lack of faith, but in actual fact, one of the key things in our walk with God is being willing to be led by the Spirit at all times. As Isaiah reminds us,’walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.’ (Is 26:8) Sometimes, we have to be willing to let go of our plans in order to follow God’s plans; we have to be willing to wait and walk in humility before Him.
Living by faith will always involve periods of not knowing and periods of testing. While we wait, we are called to do what we know we should: to worship, to serve, to listen and to obey. Living this way means we don’t always have to anticipate what is around the next corner. Living this way, we don’t have to make provision for the unknown. Living this way we have very little investment in future plans, so we have no plans to change. Living this way requires being close to God. Living this way makes us very dependent on Him. Living this way makes Him our only safety net. Living this way can be a wild adventure – but it means letting go so that only God is in control of our lives and for most people, that’s a very scary thought. It’s the way of faith, however, down the ages, and since God’s plans can’t ever be thwarted, it’s the best place to be!