What do you do when you face a significant decision? You pray, asking the Lord for wisdom. You seek counsel from mature believers, who by their experience and wisdom help you to think about what is good. You study God’s Word, which exposes the motives and intentions of your heart. You go to church, where you find encouragement and fellowship to sustain your faith. You also plan, organizing a pathway forward.
How should a Christian make plans?
First, you want your plans (and your underlying desires) to reflect the Lord’s. You grow in your understanding of God’s Word, so that your life can be a reflection (albeit dim some days) of what matters to Him. You plan wisely, lovingly, and carefully.
But sin gets in the way. Sometimes you do things selfishly. For example, as I make plans for my family’s future, I often face the pride of making much of myself. Self-exaltation is the shape of how sin seeps into my heart. I want to be the center of my plans and my universe. I know, it’s ugly. But that’s my sin.
There is a war in my heart—a mixture of godly intentions and impure desires that shape my plans. Welcome to real life in a fallen world.
Second, you take comfort because the Lord establishes your plans. Here’s a helpful proverb: “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Prov. 16:9). You’re not a preprogrammed robot. God gives you the freedom to plan and organize the way ahead. As image bearers, we’re given the ability to strategize, shape, and choose. If you get a good job offer in another city, you’ll seek counsel, pray, and read God’s Word, but in the end, you decide to accept or turn down the offer.
Here is the catch—the Lord determines our steps. Nothing happens apart from the Lord. He’s sovereign over everything, including our plans. As Proverbs 16:1 says, “The plans of the heart belong to man.” I might say, “This is my plan,” but God establishes my plans. He makes them work or He lets them fail. He controls what happens. That should poke a hole in your pride, in the confidence you put in your plans. Nothing you plan happens apart from the Lord.
Take comfort. The Lord goes before you to establish your pathway. He’s governing your path. Do you always get what you plan for? No. Much like a child whose parents see what is best for him, God knows what’s best for us.
Note the end of Proverbs 16:1: “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.” God made your mouth. He gave you speech and words. You might make elaborate plans, but the final word comes from Him. If you face an uncertain future, it’s reassuring that your plans don’t happen apart from God’s hand. The Lord determines your future. He’s got your life in His hands.