Peaceful Planning

Posted on · Posted in Authority, Wisdom

Plans that honor God must be done with the awareness that your plans do not determine your future or bind God. It is possible, even probable, that God has a different outcome than what you planned for tomorrow, even if you planning is impeccable! Proverbs 16:3 is familiar goto passage regarding planning:

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.

It would be easy to take these words as a formula that says:

  1. Make your plans.
  2. Commit them to God.
  3. You will succeed.

 But this kind of thinking is a miscalculation of what is being taught.  To understand this verse you have to take into account the lines immediately above it:

All the ways of a person are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord is the one who evaluates motives.

These words of caution in verse 2 are meant to structure the way verse 3 is understood. In this light, verse 3 is not a prescription for gaining God’s favor for your plans.  What appears to be a solid plan may actually be based on an error in judgment.  Therefore, just because you are pleased with your plans doesn’t mean the Lord is obligated to accomplish what you want.  

All planning thus should be done in recognition that God can indeed overturn it. The thought is not that we simply pray for God to honor our plans and to establish them. Rather, it is the idea that we submit our entire life’s action to God, so that even if our human plans are subverted, we can recognize an even deeper plan at work in our lives. —Tremper Longman.

This means you should not fret or worry about your plan being perfect. You can rest in the comfort that God is in control of the outcome of your plans. Thus you can live in prayerful peace as you see your plans play out in the sovereign purposes of God’s providence. 

In the New Testament, James 4:13-15 illustrates what this looks life in everyday life:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.

This is what Proverbs 16:3 is teaching you. Yes, make the best plans that you can. Then remember it is God who decides what will happen with those plans. You are dependent upon God’s will and not the brilliance of your plans.  Commit your plans to Lord knowing that he will bring about what is best. This allows you to plan in peace and rest in the confidence that your God will be faithful regardless of what happens with you plans.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.