“Not So Fast!”
Pastor Adam Mallett, Jr.
Adapted from sermon by
Pastor Gary DarDar, Jr.
Each of us has a plan. Whether it is a plan for our lives, a plan for the day, or any other section of time, we all have an idea of how we want to spend our time. James 4:13-15 says this about our plans: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’” There are many that we can read about in God’s Word who made plans for themselves, only to see those plans fail. Of all the stories of failed plans of men, the story of the Tower of Babel stands as the clearest example. Mankind joined together in pursuit of a plan that they had formulated. We read that God came down and thwarted that plan. But does this mean that we cannot plan? There are those, especially in regards to worship services, that may feel as though planning only inhibits the movement of the Holy Spirit. There are those who feel just the opposite, that failing to plan limits our ability to function in an orderly manner, which limits the opportunity for the Spirit to move in our service. Many may find themselves somewhere in between.
What else does the Word say about planning? It seems as though we are being advised leave the planning up to God! That seems wise, given that He is omniscient, and we are far from it! God has indeed planned everything out for us, but we must access those plans. There are those in scripture that made plans, and took those plans to the Lord. My wisdom tells me that such an order in planning seems unwise. That’s like writing a paper before reading the syllabus or the rubric! I am almost guaranteed to write in an incorrect format! Even if the content of my paper is acceptable, the wrong format renders the paper unacceptable. There are those in scripture who had a vision that clearly defined God’s plan for them. What a wonderful experience! To have God’s plans for your life delivered on a silver platter to be carried out with perfect wisdom. Yet, my memory is such that I would soon forget the details of that vision, leaving me guessing at how to carry out certain parts of the plan! Of course, Jesus was often very plain with His disciples in telling them what to do. In Matthew 10, Jesus gives extremely clear instructions about where to go and what to do and what to take. The disciples have a map drawn out for them! For us, it is rarely that simple.
Prayer is the answer to planning. Proverbs 14:8 says, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways.” Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” This seems to suggest that we are encouraged to think about what we should do. The Bible encourages us to make plans! Yet, the Bible also warns of the failure of the plans of men! The wording of Proverbs 14:8 is important. We are to “give thought to our ways.” Our way has been determined by God long before we were ever born! God knew us before we even existed, as He told the prophet Jeremiah! And He had a plan made for each of us, as we read later in the book of Jeremiah. What is prayer? What does it accomplish? Prayer is our way of being in communion with God, communicating with Him. When we pray, we are never moving God or influencing His plans. Rather, we are allowing Him to move us, to influence our plans! We cannot sit around waiting on a vision or a dream to give us the details! Though such a thing is certainly possible, we are not called to be passive in our pursuit of God’s will. We seek God’s wisdom, whether through scripture, prayer, or even godly counsel from other believers. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22. “Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance.” Proverbs 20:18. God may not have given me a vision or outline or map of what He has called me to do, but He has given me access to His plans for me. Through studying and meditating on the Word, hearing sermons, praying fervently, and seeking counsel from those far more spiritually mature than I, the plans for my life grow clearer and clearer every day. God is faithful to reveal His plan when we are diligent to seek it!
I think that the biggest issue we face in trying to make our own plans is the timeframe we utilize in carrying out our plans. You see, we often make a plan, and immediately begin carrying it out. Some may do just the opposite, but that is equally detrimental. When we make a plan based on our best understanding of our current life situation, we must not be so hasty in immediately building our tower. David made plans for the temple, then took those plans to God. How did God respond? God actually kept David from completing those plans, but God honored David’s heart for spiritual wisdom. Sometimes, God doesn’t immediately thwart our plans. I made plans for myself when I was younger, and I began enacting those plans. I ignored God’s plan for my own. In the most crucial season of my adolescence, God demolished my tower, leaving me confused and frustrated. Since then, I have learned to make my plans, and enact them differently. I make plans, then take those plans to God. I certainly have not perfected spiritually sound plan-making, but I believe that God honors our efforts, giving us deeper wisdom in the Spirit.
Whatever your plans are right now, slow down. Take those plans to God! Maybe your plans aren’t concrete. Maybe you have a vague idea of what direction you want to go, but nothing is completely thought out. That is Tower of Babel material, as well! You might need to write your plans down, or you might need to erase your plans. Whatever the case, remember that your plans will affect more than just your own life! You are a part of God’s divine plan for all creation and eternity! Give thought to your ways this week, and commit your plans to the Lord! Remember to utilize prayer as your way of allowing God to shape your plans and your thoughts. When we are humble to allow God to do this, we allow Him to conform us to the ways that He has for us. Our minds are renewed and transformed, as Romans 12 speaks of. As a result, our thinking and wisdom is renewed and transformed, our plans are renewed and transformed, and our lives are made effective in building the Kingdom and glorifying God!