“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” —Proverbs16:1 ESV
I don’t know about you but it seems like I’m always thinking and making plans in my head. I can spend hours thinking about and planning something I’d like to do. Now some people might call this daydreaming, and maybe it is… But it is during those times of “thinking about things” that I can come up with my most creative ideas. The problem is, I can spend way too much time thinking and planning, and too little doing.
Sometimes my planning involves acquiring some stuff that will be needed to carry out the plan. Sometimes it may require that I learn some new skill or skills that will be needed to make the plan work. Other times, the plan may involve someone else, who may or may not go along with the plan, or even have any interest in it. So just because I think I’ve come up with an excellent plan, it may not even be feasible. It may be something I want to accomplish really, really bad, but it just isn’t going to work. There is also another reason for my plans to be doomed for failure: they are my plans and not necessarily the Lord’s.
I am reminded of a story from 1 Samuel 16:6-10 when God sent Samuel to Bethlehem to select one of the sons of Jesse to be the next king for His people. Samuel watched Jesse and his sons come in to the place for a sacrifice and as he looked them over his eyes fell on Eliab. Samuel thought he was the one the Lord had chosen. Eliab must have lookrd impressive because God immediately told Samuel not to look at the man’s appearance or his stature. Eliab was not to be the one chosen because, “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (v. 7)
Samuel looked over all seven of Jesse’s sons. but God made it clear that none was the man He had chosen to anoint as King. When Jesse admitted he had still another son, his youngest, who was out tending sheep, Samuel had them send for him. When this son, David, came in Samuel saw this man was also handsome in appearance, but in a special way. God was not looking at David’s appearance he was looking at his heart that was filled with faith and joy.
Like Eliab of old, I often form my plans around what looks good to me. But if I take the time to chat with God about my plans, He often tells me what I’m thinking is not what He wants me to do. His answer may be something entirely different.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to reconnect with a person I had known nearly fifty years ago. I soon discovered that this man and his sister, whom I had also known, were now living in California and had become celebrities in their individual arts related to the motion picture industry. At first, I was filled with pride thinking that somehow my knowing these persons made me more important or better in some way. My friend and I talked for an hour and a half, mostly about him and his accomplishments over the last forty-some years. But as we talked, it became clear to me that God had other reasons for us to reconnect.. It was not to enhance my ego, but to direct me in His plan for my friend.
If we read the next two verses in Proverbs 16, we see that it says:
“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs16:2-3. ESV
I thought my motives were pure when I set out to contact my friend. But God showed me that I was looking for something different. He enabled me to reconnect with this old friend for an entirely different purpose. If I’m to believe the truth of verse 3 above, God will take care of my next step if I will just give it to Him.
Like most men I know, I like to be in control. I like to make the plans for myself. It is hard to give up that control to anyone else. But what about those times when things I planned didn’t go well? Was it God’s fault? For instance back in the early 1980s my first marriage was on the rocks. It became apparent that what I was expecting from that marriage was not the same as what she was expecting. But, more important, I was no longer depending upon God to direct our choices. We were not taking the necessary steps that a husband and wife should have been taking to assure that God’s blessing remained upon our marriage and providing us direction. More accurately, I was not asking him for the direction He expected of me as the leader of his family. But I turned the blame around, back to God, and for the next 25 years I walked away from Him. I had decided that I still wanted to make my own choices and plans. And God let me.
How about you? Have you been looking to God as the one whose plans are being established? Do you look to him each day for His directions for that day? Do you recognize that God weighs your spirit when you make choices and then allows the results He sees in your heart to control the outcome? The consequences of our decisions are for each of us to own.
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”