Planning is a big part of most business people’s life. That was certainly true of me.
Planning didn’t stop when I left the office, though. I had plans for everything in my life. Vacations were planned in minute detail. Home remodeling project—I had a plan. My marriage—I had a plan. My children’s life—I had a plan. Some who know me might say my attempts at planning everything was a thinly guised attempt to control my surroundings. There may be some truth to that.
One of the things I learned along the way was that sometimes my best plans didn’t align with God’s plans. The Bible illustrates this issue in detail; man’s plans frequently do not align with God’s plans. We have one such example with the Apostle Paul.
Paul’s plan: After leaving the Philippians, Paul’s plan was to go to Jerusalem, from there to Rome, and eventually to Spain (Romans 15:15, 23-25).
What happened: On his way to Jerusalem, people warned him not to go there, but he went anyway. His own people betrayed him, beat him almost to death, and threw him in prison for some two years. At that point, Paul appeals to Caesar and is sent to Rome via ship. The ship is wrecked near Malta, where he was bitten by a poisonous snake. He finally makes it to Rome where he is again imprisoned, this time in chains attached to a pair of Roman soldiers. His appeal will be before Caesar Nero, the same guy who had been killing Christians in the most horrific ways.
Philippians 1:12-18 (ESV)
12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
God’s plan: The Gospel is advanced during his imprisonment two ways: 1) Paul tells the Romans guards his testimony (two guards at a time for 6-hour shifts, 24 hours a day). There are 9,000 soldiers in the Imperial guard and somehow the Word was spread throughout! (v13), and 2) Paul’s imprisonment and persecution emboldened others to spread the Gospel (v14). God’s plan was to have the Gospel preached from prison among Roman guards. Men who would never be in a church. But that is exactly where God wanted Paul to be. Paul says He was put here for the defense of the Gospel (v16). In the midst of this, and facing execution, Paul says he rejoices (v18).
God’s plan is a bigger plan, it is the best plan, because His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts…
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV)
After several painful experiences I’ve learned that aligning my plan to God’s plan is always a good idea. Sometimes I have trouble discerning God’s plan, and that is when I tend to still get myself into trouble. I tend to want to get going and work my plan whether or not I’ve heard from God. Another thing I’ve learned is to wait for God to make His plan clear to me. This is the really hard part for me. The third thing I’ve learned is that the more time I spend in prayer seeking God’s plan—the quicker it usually comes!
Join the Conversation!
As always questions and comments are welcome. Do you have God-sized plans in your life?
Category: Skills | Long-Run Planning