“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21)
I’ve read that verse probably hundreds of times. Depending on my mood and circumstances, sometimes it feels enormously encouraging and sometimes it feels a bit unfair.
On the one hand, I like to think that God is in control of my life because it means I don’t have to worry so much about what is going to happen in the future. When I start to freak out about what’s going to happen next year or how I’m going to find a job with my rather.. eclectic resume, it’s comforting to remember that it’s God who opens doors when the time is right.
But on the other hand, I really like to make plans. And I rather like things to work out the way I planned them. I don’t like being unprepared and I don’t like being surprised (so if you’re planning on throwing me a surprise party, don’t.) And when my well thought out and intentioned plans are interfered with, I find that I don’t like that Proverb as much.
When the kids that I’ve been pouring myself into give me attitude or when I run into red tape every time I try to do something better. Or when the cost of my missions trip keeps climbing with unexpected expenses and fees. I’m tempted to think that God must be against me.
But my plan is good, I reason with God, Why aren’t you blessing it? Why is it still hard?
It’s so easy to think that if our plan is good, that everything will work out. The assumption is reflected in our prayers. We pray that will God will bless the plans that we’ve made instead of asking Him to take control- even if that means interrupting our plans.
Last weekend, I went to a Leeland concert and two songs into the set, the power went out. When the emergency lights came on, the band quickly realized that none of their instruments or mics would work.
I was feeling pretty sorry for the band, thinking of the hours of work that went into getting the lights set up, the instruments, the sound checks, the careful arranging of the set to create an atmosphere of worship. And now their plans were completely unsettled.
But then, with an incredible amount of grace, the lead singer, Leeland Mooring, put down his now useless electric guitar, came to the front of the stage and started singing a hymn. Slowly the whole audience started to sing with him.
And in that moment, I was so glad that the power had gone out. Because instead of a show with perfectly timed transitions and over-powering bass, it instantly became about the community of believers that were in that building. Most of us had never met before and we will probably never see each other again, but at that moment, the only thing that we were thinking about was the one thing that brought us all together- praising our God and Savior.
It was good, not because it was so well planned or produced, but because it was real and raw and unrehearsed.
Eventually someone brought out an acoustic guitar and an old upright piano and they finished the night as an acoustic set. And I completely loved it. I loved the simplicity of it. I loved hearing the beautiful voices of my friend Hannah and my sisters instead of having everything melt into the sound of the band. I cannot imagine it being a better experience with the power on.
And that, I think, is a picture of what it looks like when God upsets our plans to establish his own. It’s not that our plans are necessarily bad. I’ve been to Leeland concerts before that go as planned and they are still very encouraging. But sometimes God has something even better in store than what we can plan.
Sometimes we don’t see it that way very quickly (or maybe ever). When that relationship that you planned on suddenly ends. When we don’t get the job after we had already mentally spent our first paycheck. When a plan for housing suddenly falls through.
Sometimes it seems like it would be really nice if God would just back our plans instead of having so many of His own. But think of all the experiences that you would have missed if your life always went according to your carefully laid plans. Not only would it be pretty boring, but there wouldn’t be much room for growth.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
He says “for I know the plans.” So often I find myself wishing He would say “here are the plans!” But He doesn’t. He asks us to trust that the plan that He has is good.
(And it is.)