Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21
Yes I do. I have lots of plans. I have plans for my next job. I have plans to have a family one day. I have plans for ten or more stories floating in my head. I have plans for various websites. I have plans for businesses I could start.
The problem is not, “Do I have a plan,” but which one should I pursue?
Recently, I’ve had friends and colleagues ask me about my future plans. Sometimes, these questions come across with a tone of exasperation. “When are you going to do something,” seems to be the subtext of their inquiries. I guess the frustration I have with these queries is I find myself walking a tightrope.
Let me put this in context.
Starting college, I was going into broadcast journalism. I wanted to go work for a TV station or some other media company. Then I spent the summer of my freshman year serving as a summer missionary. As the summer came to a close, those plans changed. I felt the Lord leading me to full-time mission work. So from that point until I graduated, I knew what I was going to do with my life. I was going to participate in the Journeyman program once I graduated. The program would send me overseas for two years as a missionary. Then my plan was to go to seminary and then back to the field as a career missionary. Along the way, I planned on meeting a godly woman and we’d start a family.
So upon graduation, I started the process to be a Journeyman. During the interviews, I realized I was treating this like any other job. In conjunction with this realization, there was no leading of the Spirit, no peace and no passion for any of the listed positions. So I put that on hold and I got a job. I paid off my debts and found ways to serve in my local church.
A few years passed and I felt like it was time to move on. I had a strong leading to quit my job. At first, I wrote it off as having a bad day, but I couldn’t shake it. So I resigned. I didn’t have a plan but I came up with one quickly. I would start my own business developing websites and software. This job would allow me the freedom to take weeks at a time to go on short-term mission trips. It was slow going, but my client base increased. Then I met a young lady and we decided to see if there was a relationship in our future. Things were going well. Work kept pouring in. Thoughts of marriage crossed my mind.
Then I was blind-sided by events that caused my business to dry up in a matter of days. The young lady decided to call it quits. So I did what I do best. I came up with another plan.
I went to work for a company I had previously turned down when my business was growing. I spent a year at that job and was miserable. While on a business trip, I reached my breaking point and quit on the spot. At this point, I was out of plans. So I did what I should have done three years before. I asked the Lord what my plans should be. I spent a month at a West Texas camp working and praying for wisdom.
After that month, I realized I was going to seminary. I knew this was the Lord leading because going back to school was the last thing I wanted to do. I packed up my belongings and moved to Texas to start seminary. I needed a job so I figured I’d get a job as a music minister. I got a few calls and went to a couple of interviews, but nothing came of it. After about a month, I found a job delivering pizzas for Pizza Hut. I did that for about a year. During this time I also got a job as a web developer at a church. I planned on working there until I graduated and then go onto “bigger things.”
Then came February 2009. I was told they were doing away with my position. I had felt it was time to move on for several months, but also felt there were things I needed to learn. I couldn’t have asked for a clearer answer. I figured I’d look for a few weeks and then jump into another job. Those few weeks stretched to seven months.
Then I got an interview with my current employer. Within a few hours of the interview I was offered the position. Originally, I planned to stay on till graduation, which was in a few months. My plan was to pay down my debts and find a church position. Well none came along. 2010 passed by and with 2011 dawning, I redoubled my efforts to find a church position. I would occasionally get an email saying the church was going in a different direction or worse, I would hear nothing at all.
So that brings you up to speed and sheds some light on my metaphorical tightrope. I know I can’t sit around waiting for God to drop something in my lap. On the other hand, I’ve seen where all my plans lead.
As a believer, I’m called to work out my salvation with fear and trembling. A faith like Abraham’s will not be delivered to me by UPS. But I am also told to be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. James told his readers that if we as mere mortals try and presume what were are going to do, then we are boasting in arrogance. He goes so far to say this kind of boasting is evil. How do I reconcile the two? That is an ongoing process. There is one thing I’ve learned, but have to be reminded of daily. I have to stop focusing so much on the plans of tomorrow that I miss the work of today. I must daily lay down my plans and desires. As long I continue to strive to get my own way I show I am not submitted to Christ.
We see examples throughout scripture of people following their own plans. Many had good intentions. Some even had godly intentions. Many failed because, despite their intentions, their methods were evil. Others didn’t work out because the Lord had other plans. Paul and his team wanted to keep going into different parts of Asia. But the Lord wanted them in Macedonia. I’m not trying to equate my situation to Paul’s, but there are days that things feel similar. I’m also learning that parts of my faith are extremely lacking and this time is acting as refining fire.
When I started seminary many people would ask what I was going to do after graduation. I knew there were a few things I’d like to do, but I also knew God was trying to break me of making so many plans. Plus my plans had brought me so much frustration and heartache. Five years on, I can see myself in a variety of places. The Lord may have plans for me to be a full-time minister or maybe an entrepreneur. He’s not so much concerned with the position but with the submission of my life to his purpose.
So it’s my prayer that I would do my work as unto the Lord and put all my plans into his hands and see which ones line up with his. So yes I have a plan, to daily submit my life to Him and fulfill his purpose.