Could it be that God really doesn’t want you to plan for your future? Wouldn’t that be careless, like you’re not being a good steward of your life? How do we untangle this spiritual conundrum?
I’m a Planner
I’ll admit it—I’m a planner.
My default is to embrace and run after all things calculated and carefully considered. Not only does having and keeping a good plan in place calm my nerves, it also helps me to feel in control and prepared for whatever might come my way. Adding to that, a good plan keeps me moving forward, especially when insecurities threaten to slow me down or laziness tempts me to take it easy and coast.
On the surface, being a planner with a good plan in place seems like the only way to wisely and carefully live out God’s plan.
But is planning actually the only wise and productive choice, or is it sometimes just a foolish and arrogant illusion?
Cautiously Determine our Every Step
Should you and I cautiously determine our every step all along the way? Or should we throw caution to the wind and boldly follow God’s steps wherever they might lead?
It seems like this passage from James points to the latter of these two options. James was contrasting our human way of doing things—planning out our futures—with God’s steady, certain and already predetermined plan for us. Ultimately, this means we must accept the fact that no amount of planning on our part can alter God’s providential will and way.
Still, that doesn’t negate the role God expects us to play in His plans. He wants us to persistently ask Him to reveal His will to us all along the way. That’s because God uses our prayerful dependence on Him as a catalyst for bringing about His will, while at the same time, strengthening our faith to choose His will above our own.
Look to God When Planning for the Future
When we keep our role and place in mind, this challenge from James remains in proper perspective. Instead of discouraging us from planning, it encourages us to look to God for clarity on what our part is in His plan each day.
Without that constant recognition of who God is—the Lord of our lives—we will rely too heavily on our own human reasoning and efforts. If and when we do that, we will run off into a ditch of sorts, where every best laid plan goes awry.
In what ways are you running ahead of God, planning something without seeking perspective into His plan for you?
Ask the Lord to reveal any areas where you might be doing this, then listen and respond to what He reveals. Using this open-handed and faith-based approach will offer you the best way to plan for your future, revealing God’s best as a result.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead, you should say, If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. James 4:13-15 (HCSB)