Unless you are God, long term planning is guesswork. There are just too many factors that are out of your hands: job security, market volatility, your health, what your child will do from one day to the next, something in the house breaks down, you are in a car accident- to name few. Planning makes you think you are in control when you are actually out of control.
Now, let’s not underrate planning. Jesus said, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” Luke 14:28 If you are going to build something and reach a goal then you need a plan. You need some idea how to get there.
But let’s not overrate planning either. Planning our life is really our best guesses about who we are, what kind of person we will be, and what kind of future we think will happen or want to happen. Sometimes we can get too stressed out about our plans. We can construct a plan on how we think our life should go, and then ask God to help us with our plan, and when things go wrong blame God for it’s failure! Why don’t we say, I will go with God’s plan for my life and pray to God for strength to accomplish the task?
When you turn your plan into THE path for your life (which is just an educated guess about the future) you tie yourself to the past. They can blind you from God’s plan. “This is where I am going because, well, this is where I said I was going.” That’s the problem. Plus, our plans are often inconsistent with God’s plan.
Our natural tendency is to go with our plan, and then try to improvise our plan with God’s plan. Thus our faith merely becomes picking opportunities that come along our way. Sometimes you need to say, “We’re going with God’s plan even though it doesn’t make sense with my plan.”
Paul, in Acts 16:6-10, is preaching the Gospel in the region of Galatia (Modern day Turkey) and several times we are told how the Holy Spirit kept them from where they intended to go. First, the text says they were kept from speaking in Asia. When they tried to enter Bithyna Luke tells us the Spirit of Jesus would not let them go. Then in the night Paul had a vision saying he needed to go into Macedonia, (not what they planned to do), so the next morning Paul and his companions sailed into Samothrace.
The timing of long range plans can be all messed up too. Why? You simply don’t have enough information. Thus to predict the future you look at the circumstances and forecasts to try and make the best decision. The problem is we are horrible interpreters of our circumstances. How many times have you had to change plans?
You have the most information when you are doing something, not before you have done it. Think about planning from God’s perspective. In his infinite nature he is present at all points in time, past, present, and future. Therefore, he is in the best position to guide us into the future. He is in the best decision to help you make a big decision.
Like I noted before, I’m not saying planning is a worthless exercise. It does have value; just don’t feel the need to obsess over it. Be willing to follow God’s plan and improvise your plan to God’s plan and not your circumstances. You already improvise your plans when things change. It’s not all that much different to make the change to follow God’s good and perfect route. How many of your plans (diet, exercise, money making idea) ends up in the trash can anyway?
Here is the deal, decide what God wants you to do this week, and then do it. Figure out the next most wisest thing and then do that. Make sure you are making the small decisions correctly and not just the big ones.
Sometimes when you are following God it feels like you are winging it, but rest assured God isn’t. Just get on the plane and fly with God. He’ll provide everything you need to get there. Working our God’s plan for your life can seem a little scary, but blindly following a plan in the dark when you have a resource that can light your path is scarier.