Sometime today, sneak off to a quiet place and spend some time in Proverbs 16, especially verses 1-9. As the Proverbs go, chapter 16.1-9 has an amazing, if not out-of-the-ordinary consistency within it. Much of Proverbs reads like a disjointed, disconnected series of wise sayings; as if Solomon were recording the inspirational thoughts from a daily desk calendar.
This morning, Proverbs 16.9 is especially striking to me: "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."
Do I hear an "Amen" echoing across the vast cyber-landscape?
Throughout my life, on many different occasions, I have attempted to my level-best to engineer my life. To plan my course. To dictate the outcome of my existence. To control my destiny.
From the simplest things in life, like where to spend a day off with the girls to much larger things, like where I will minister and how long I will stay there, I have been notorious in the past for planning my course and assuming that God would rubber-stamp His blessing on all of my plans.
Over and over again, God has circumstantially reminded me that it is He, not me, who determines the course, the outcome, the destiny.
For example, I was reminded of this again just in the last couple of days. I had flawlessly engineered a wonderful plan -- with Mandy's help -- for the relocation of our family and belongings to California. We had it planned. The plan was right on target. Everything was working flawlessly, according to my plan.
And then...the course changed. The plan altered. Because of class size quotas in California, Trae has to physically be present in her classroom on the opening day of school, August 21, in order to secure her place in school. Maple Creek is a wonderful school with a sterling reputation and is adjacent to our neighborhood. We had prayed earnestly a place could be found for Trae at Maple Creek. Yesterday afternoon, we learned that there was a place for her, provided she was present and accounted for on opening day, August 21.
That wasn't in the plan! My plan was for Trae to start school on the Tuesday after Labor Day.
So now, the girls have to fly west next Thursday -- the same day I fly east to begin a speaking tour of Teays Valley, West Virginia -- to settle in for a couple of days before the beginning of school.
Before, I'd be highly frustrated and aggrevated that my course, my plans had been changed. But now, in the little things and even most of the big things, I'm finding more and more peace in the provision of God to direct my steps.
What about you? When your flawlessly engineered plans for your life are altered, does it produce anxiety, stress and depression? Or does it produce faith?
If I'm reading Solomon correctly, it seems his inspired counsel is unqualified: when the course I have is altered, it must serve as a window of faith to see and to sense the will and working of God for good (Romans 8.28). So today, if you get thrown off schedule, if your course gets re-directed, let me encourage you to look for the blessing in the midst of the burden. You might be surprised to see the hand of God in your midst.