I’ve got it all planned out……Or at least I like to think I do. How many of these plans actually come to pass at all, much less the way I think they should? These last couple of years have hopefully helped us solidify in our minds just how little control we have over the world around us. Regardless of what we believe, we can only control how we react to the situations that arise in our lives. We can’t even control our own bodies, right? If we could, we would never get injured or sick. It doesn’t take long for us to realize that this isn’t the case.
So then, what is it about planning that draws so many of us in? I believe it is the illusion of control that can come along with our plans. If I lay all this out, and follow all of these steps just right, then I will get this result. That sounds great–until life happens. The car breaks down, your career path changes, a global pandemic hits, and poof…..they’re gone just like dust in the wind.
Where does that leave us? Should we fly by the seat of our pants? That doesn’t seem wise, though it could be fun to begin with. What does the Word have to say about planning?
“Go to the ant, you lazy one, Observe its ways and be wise, Which having no chief, officer, or ruler, Prepares its food in the summer and gathers its provision in the harvest.”
Proverbs 6:6-8 (NASB 2020)
It seems clear that Solomon realizes the benefit in looking ahead and making preparations for what could be to come, and admonishes us to look ahead as well.
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. For you are just a vapor that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”
James 4:13-15 (NASB 2020)
Here we see James warning against becoming arrogant in our planning. No matter how detailed, well-researched and well-communicated our plans are, we must realize that every one of them is ultimately out of our control.
The late Five Star General and 34th U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower is credited with the following quote: “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Perhaps what we should take away from these words is that we mustn’t live our lives haphazardly, but make plans to achieve what we believe is prudent–knowing all the while that they are subject to, and likely will change. The planning process will help us set realistic goals and timleines, as well as identify potential risks and measures to mitigate them.
Whether we’re starting a new minute, hour, day, week, month or year, we can make the choice to control our reaction to the stimuli in our lives. Will we allow adapting to the changes to make us stronger? Will we trust that God is in control and will ultimately be the one to get us through the tough times?
Our past can’t define us if we don’t let it. Let’s carefully set realistic goals, get up and get going each day, and respond appropriately when things don’t go as planned. Happy New Year!