Sometimes By Step…

The Profound Revelation of Late has been on the whole idea of planning. I’m a planner. Not the bound-Franklin-Covey sort, of course -the sort that has to have this picture as detailed as possible of what I want to do for the next (insert period of time more than three hours). Want to drive me crazy? Don’t let me on to what’s coming next. And now, I realize that life is just exactly that -not knowing what’s coming next. So, returning to the theme of the Fine Line Between Faith and Irresponsibility, perhaps the answer to all my craziness is replacing Planning with Vision.

What is the difference? Planning is about What I Want to Do. Vision is about watching and listening for what God is going to do next.

It’s taken me 35 years of life, but I’ve finally realized that I can plan all I want to, but if it isn’t aligned with God’s vision, all my planning is worthless. Wasted time. I could go on pretty much ad nauseam about all the plans I’ve made that God has vetoed. If I were the Master of my Fate and the Captain of my own Soul, I’d be in way deep excrement by now. What God has wrought of my life is a far better story than I could have written. Then, why is it still so hard to let go and stop all the ridiculous Planning? Because of two things, and they are closely related. Fear, and Control.

If I stop Planning, I acknowledge that I am no longer in control of What Happens Next, and therefore, I live in a state of gripping fear that What Happens Next will be something I do not want -but only if I forget to add one of the key elements to Vision -and that is Faith.

Basically, cutting through all the ramblings, the new thing to me is this idea that God doesn’t give us a Five Year Plan of His will, or even a road map, for that matter. The way he leads seems to be a lot less about knowing where we’re going, and a whole lot more like Abraham, being told to leave the only place he knew to go to somewhere he didn’t know. God has this habit of not telling us what’s next, for whatever His reason. He didn’t tell Abraham that the ram was in the thicket, and he didn’t give the Children of Israel road signs to get to the Promised Land. Even Noah was kept on a “need to know” basis, it seems. And He didn’t even (I believe -correct me if I’m getting this wrong) tell His own son whether or not he would have taken the cup from him, or I don’t believe Jesus would have asked. I think part of the great sacrifice that Christ made was knowing the vastness about what He needed to do to save mankind, but very little about exactly what would happen in those last days. He doesn’t give us a play-by-play of what’s going to happen until He comes back, no matter how many charts and graphs we try to make of it all.

What I’m realizing is that the wholeness of how vastly and transcendently wise God is shows through in the way He leads us. He occasionally gives us partial glimpses of what is to happen -but not as a future-telling. The purpose of prophecy is always to move us to action, not to lull us into a sense of false peace in knowing what’s going to happen. Discerning God’s will has to be a moment-by-moment thing, or we miss it. There are pivotal times, but we are not always allowed to know when those are, even when they seem obviously pivotal. It is the many small decisions every day that steer us toward the bigger direction of years and decades and lifetimes. You can’t jump from one major life event to another, and coast through the middle. We have to be paying attention all the time to where we are at the moment.

Two things sum this up far better than my own words. Here they are:

Proverbs 16:9

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”

And from Rich Mullins: