I am a planner. I like to dot every “i” and cross every “t”. I give myself timelines to follow, deadlines to meet and eventual stress-lines to wear. Whether it’s an event or the beginning of a day, week, month or a new year, I plan.
For me, planning brings structure and balance. It causes me to stay focused, aiming for particular goals. And while that may be good, planning can also sometimes disguise my wretched want to control.
But I have a confession – a confession that has been over four decades, one pandemic and a super poignant sermon in the making. Don’t get me wrong, I still have plans. I have life-improving goals that I want to pursue, immeasurably-more dreams so big only God can make them possible, and heart-rendering hopes that I am committing to God in prayer in this New Year – not only for me, but also for my marriage, for the ministry, and for my children.
Because of that, you would be right to assume that the chaos that ensued in 2020 has not changed the novelty that comes with the turn of a New Year for me. I know that God can and I have seen Him work for good, so I am still forging ahead by faith with those plans. But what 2020 HAS changed for me, what it has caused me to FINALLY fully concede is this:
God’s Purposes > My Plans
The wise man, Solomon, clearly admonishes us of this in Proverbs 19:21:
“You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.” (NLT)
I read over those words slowly, this time making it personal: Yes, Steph, you can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose WILL prevail.
Yeah, the Lord’s purpose will prevail, alright. Creation is testifying to it.
The Lord’s purpose will prevail, alright. The first Advent proved it, as will the second at His return.
The Lord’s purpose will prevail, alright. Over and over, His Word confirms it, like that of Psalm 33:11:
“But the LORD’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken.” (NLT)
His intentions and His objectives, indeed, His very purposes can never be shaken.
That’s not so with my plans.
See, my plans waver depending on circumstances, but God’s purposes stand firm in spite of them.
My plans are limited to my known abilities, but God’s purposes are limitless to all He has yet to reveal.
My plans will hopefully be for my good, but God’s purposes knowingly are for my good.
My plans may look to my own strength, but God’s purposes will only reveal His.
My plans may be subtly driven by selfish motive, but His purposes are gracefully guided by selfless love.
My plans are fleeting, pegged to my one life, but God’s purposes are eternal, encircling all generations.
So I can make my many plans, but they will never compare to God’s purposes.
His purposes will always be greater than my plans. His purposes will always be wiser than my plans. And yes, His purposes will always prevail over my plans.
And what’s more, God’s purposes reveal that:
He is always tenderly pursuing us.
He is always fighting for us.
He is always present in the preparation and He is faithful to bring His plans to completion.
He desires relationship with us. Yes, Abba Father desires relationship with us!
He extends mercy to relieve our sinful sufferings.
He freely offers grace that we do not deserve.
He saves us, frees us, protects us and provides for us.
And He doesn’t just love us. He SO LOVES us, giving His only Son so that we may have life – and have it more abundantly!
So what are my plans for 2021?
Well, my plans are to flat out pursue His great purposes for my life and, in doing so, to earnestly pray that what has been established in my heart is in alignment with His will.
To faithfully seek Him through the reading of His Word.
To intentionally abide with Him in His creation.
And to fervently offer Him sacrifices of praise.
Yes, my plans are to continually ask God of His purposes and then allow His purposes to determine my steps, because God’s Purposes > My Plans, every. single. time.
In what way(s) has God previously revealed to you that His purposes are indeed greater than your plans?