Monday, March 26, 2012

Planning with God

Once upon a time, a shipment of watches was rejected by a local jeweler.  The undelivered goods were sold for half price to a 23-year-old man who was not all that impressive.  His straightforward plan was to sell the watches, which he quickly did.  He then left home and moved to Chicago where he met his future business partner.  From those humble beginnings, Sears & Roebuck was born.

We pray and plan our work, then work our plan.  We try to anticipate the unexpected, planning and praying accordingly.  We start out strong and then run into unforeseen problems.  Just when we seem to get life back together, the proverbial wheels fall off.  And like those “abandoned watches”, we’re stuck in a strange place with nowhere to go.

When the unanticipated or unplanned happens, what is our reaction?  Do we yell at the screen?  Does the keyboard get pounded as we read the email?  Do we lash out at the poor unfortunate person delivering bad news?  Do we hang our head in disappointment and depression?  Do we shake our fist at God in anger and disgust?

What do we do when our plans are abandoned or rejected?  We built them with skill, with the goal that they would be used.  But now, like those watches, we have not where to go.

The Bible has much to say about planning, almost all of it is positive.  But in the midst of our planning, what do we do with the “abandoned watches” in our life?  What does God have in store for us?  Here are three guiding principles;

Stand – While plans are good, we need to stand with God, giving Him the right to overrule them.  As we stand with God, He will take us to a unique destination, on an untraveled road.  Just think about your life, I bet your life has been full of unexpected turns that no one could have ever anticipated.  When Mary Ann and I got married in Baltimore, we had no clue that we’d be living in central Florida.  More than our standing with God, He has stood by and with us, guiding and providing for us.   Proverbs 19:21 – Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

Steps – There is no way for us to know all the miles and turns along the road of life.  That’s why we need to take steps with God and with life.  It’s a life-long process of walking with God, allowing Him to be God.  In moving from Baltimore to Florida, I forgot to mention that it also included nine job changes and five moves.  When we try and control everything with a clenched fist, we become our own God and worship ourselves.  Giving control of each day to God releases us from the prison of idolatry and the chains of worry.  Proverbs 16:9 – In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

So – There are times when God has revealed His will for our lives, but something just doesn’t seem right.  When these times come (and they will come) the question becomes, what to do?  Do we quit?  Do we sit down and pout?  Paul was called by God to preach, reaching Jew and Gentile alike for Jesus, yet he and his companions are prevented by God to enter Asia.  It is interesting to read how the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Jesus kept them from Asia.  In spite of God’s leading not to go into Asia, Paul continued to follow his calling and kept on reaching people.  The key word is “so”.  In spite of God’s direction not to go a certain place, Paul stayed at the task, sharing Jesus where he could.  The implications for us are huge.  When God seems to be saying “no” in one area, are we open to His “yes” in another?  Acts 16:8 – So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas

The application is clear – what we do when our plans (our “watches”) are delayed, abandoned or rejected is vitally important and reflects on our relationship with God.  Let’s continue walking in faith;
  • Stand with God, allowing Him to work His purpose out in our lives
  • Take Steps with God, walking with Him daily
  • Remain faithful to God, So we will be faithful to our Father and His call

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