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"Planning Without Worrying" (posted January 1, 2021)
A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.
- Proverbs 16:9
This verse is simple to memorize but can take a lifetime to learn. It illustrates the daily tension between planning and faith, and it's a great reminder as we begin a new year.
On one side, the Scriptures certainly encourage making plans. Solomon wrote that planning is a mark of wisdom: "Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise... [she] provides her supplies in the summer" (Proverbs 6:6, 8). In the Lord's parable of Luke 16, the unjust steward was commended not for his vices but for his shrewd thoughts about the future. The Lord's lesson was this: "I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home" (Luke 16:9).
We are to imitate that steward by using earthly things today to accomplish spiritual goals tomorrow. Are you planning a vacation? Consider how you can strengthen your family life or encourage other believers as you travel. Are you saving money to buy a house? Determine now how you will use that home for the Lord. Planning ahead is a wise way to pursue godly priorities.
Yet our verse reminds us of a danger when we plan ahead. It is the danger of worry. It's not good to avoid planning for tomorrow, but neither is it good to worry about the plans we have made, for it is the Lord who directs our steps. We don't know what a day may bring forth, and the best laid plans can come to nothing in an instant. Worrying about our plans does not make them more likely to occur tomorrow; it only weakens our faith today.
But the Lord knows the end from the beginning. He knew long ago about the interruptions and derailments of your plans. He has not been frustrated, and He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. He has not forgotten you!
As we navigate the course of life, let us be faithful to make plans today and then trust the Lord for tomorrow.