Recently, I held the promise of the beginning a week with a rare two days sans interruption to do some much-desired writing. I was so excited. I spent most of the day doing needed housework. I was cranking out the chores with excitement, just knowing I would have a couple of days to focus on the things I wanted to do. To enjoy doing those things in a clean home was a dream come true.
Then a text came.
Annnnnd, then another one.
Before my freshly mopped floors had even dried and the vacuum was put away, the glorious plans for hiding out on my patio in my lounge pants with a pot of French press and my pink laptop had vanished. Poof! Just. Like. That.
I realize this is such a small example of plans going awry compared to bigger plans we may have cherished more deeply in our hearts:
- Being accepted to a certain college.
- A spouse and children.
- Having your children follow Christ wholeheartedly.
- Career “success.”
- Having a husband that lovingly leads your home.
Just fill in the blank with something that has been on the radar of your heart, yet, somehow is far from being realized.
Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.”
E.M. Bounds, “All God’s plans have the mark of the cross on them, and all His plans have death to self in them.”
I am grateful the Lord has engraved this verse on my heart. Ask my friends. I rehearse it often. It is such a rich tool to renew my mind and reorient my heart. So very often, my heart needs some holy rearrangement to accommodate what the Lord has planned and ordained (Psalm 139:16) for me.
In order to respond rightly to God’s best for us, we should consider several things from this little passage about plans in Proverbs 16:1-3:
“The plans of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the Lord weighs the motives.
Commit your works to the Lord
And your plans will be established.”
I often need to be reminded when I make plans, arrangements, and preparations, that I must lay them at the foot of the Cross, no matter how noble, beneficial, and yes, even ordinary they may be. God always has the last word whether or not my plans fall under His kind intentions and perfect will. This is why James reminds us: “Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that”(James 4:15). We have gotten really good at saying “Lord willing” when we announce our plans. But do we really mean it?
Time for a Heart Check
Another reason I should always be mindful of God’s greater glory in my plans is that He alone knows my heart. He alone has every single fact. What I think may be good, wise, and wonderful may really be filled with wrong motives, selfish desires, a lack of discernment, little care for others, or just wrong timing. He searches my heart and directs me accordingly. As we see in Proverbs 16, He weighs our motives.
How kind God is to reveal when I am moving full steam ahead in the plans of that other triune god; Me, Myself, and I! I should regularly pray for God to redirect my heart by making me aware that He clearly He knows what is best. Were the things I wanted to do for two days bad or wrong? No. But they clearly were not what God wanted for me. Instead, He gave me an opportunity to become aware of the needs of others and to answer those texts with a heart ready to serve them.
Our hearts are infirmed from sin, and our minds are finite in the ability to discern what is best. That is why I need to commit my plans to the Lord’s sovereign will. Psalm 92:5 reminds me that God’s works are wondrous, and His thoughts are very deep. My thoughts on a good day are stained with desires of shallow self-love and empty conceit.
How do I know if I have committed my plans to the Lord? How I respond when my plans get changed will be a big indicator.
Heart Change Requires Heart Surgery
Here’s a simple little question I ask myself to see whether or not my heart’s desires are sinful: Do I sin when I don’t get what I desire; or am I willing to sin to get what I desire?
Am I willing to change my plans without grumbling or disputing? Or, do I exhibit the symptoms of the debilitating “disease” is known as Counterfeit Martyr Syndrome – CMS for short. Symptoms of this heart sickness may include heavy sighing, murmuring under one’s breath, hissy fits which the Bible calls outbursts of anger (Galatians 5:20), or even malice.
Ladies, God has not asked us to take on the sins of the world for the good of mankind. His Son already did that. He has, however, asked us to reorient our hearts toward His will through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Dear sister, allow Him to press deeply into the recesses of your heart to expose and repair any maladies by bowing to your loving Creator. Does this require taking up your cross and denying self? Absolutely (Matthew 16:24). Belonging to Christ means crucifying your flesh (Galatians 5:25).
Since Jesus Christ joyfully took on the consequences of our sins (Hebrews 12:12), we should gladly bear the weight of self-denial for the glory of our Father, the benefit of others, as well as the sanctification of our own hearts.
As you examine your plans and the heartstrings that may be tied tightly around them, ask yourself these four things:
- Are you more concerned with modeling God’s ways and glory than your own? We read the model prayer known as the Lord’s Prayer. It ends with “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.” This is not a prayer to merely read. We should bear it in our hearts and actions.
- Are you willing to be controlled by Christ no matter what happens to your plans? (2 Corinthians 5:14)
- Do you have a love for God’s people? In our age of me first, our love for others will be exposed when we look to see if others are ever involved in our plans(Galatians 6:9-10). Do a study on the One-Anothers of Scripture.
- Have you grasped the reality that a life lived apart from God’s plan is ineffectual? (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3)
In order for Christ is to increase in our lives, then you and I MUST be willing to decrease (John 3:30). Is there a better person in whose hands to place my plans than the One who has established the end from the beginning? Pray with me that we will purpose to be more like Job who grew in intimacy with the Lord once he humbly laid his heart down before the purposes of God.
Job 42:1-6, “I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
‘Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me.’
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.”