Episode 1. Our Plans – God’s Steps
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We all have a plan – for today, tomorrow and our lives. But things don’t always go according to plan. And it’s times like that that the rubber of faith really hits the road. We all know that we can plan this or plan that but really, when we get out of bed each morning […]
We all have a plan – for today, tomorrow and our lives. But things don’t always go according to plan. And it’s times like that that the rubber of faith really hits the road.
We all know that we can plan this or plan that but really, when we get out of bed each morning we have no idea what that day’s going to hold. In fact the whole thing can unravel right before our very eyes despite the best-laid plans of mice and men. Or on the flip side of the coin we can be dreading something and it goes so much better than we could ever have imagined.
Sometimes things go just as we planned and other times there’s a huge disconnect between our plans on the one hand and what actually happens on the other. And that disconnect can be a pretty stressful place to be. In fact its right in the middle of that stressful disconnect, when our plans go out the window, that the rubber hits the road.
If this Christianity thing is supposed to work then faith has to make a real difference when our plans start unravelling before our very eyes, right?
Last week on the program and again this week we’re getting down and practical. Sometimes you look at the Bible and you think it’s a dusty old book and you think, ‘Oh, what practical value is that?’
You know when we grow up from being kids to teenagers to adults you get some good advice along the way but ultimately that advice mixes in with our own experience. And hopefully we learn things and we grow and we mature and we’ve been looking through some wisdom from King Solomon, one of the wisest men that ever walked the planet, in his book of Proverbs.
Proverbs is written in the Old Testament as some advice to some young men. So we’ve been tuning into that advice and saying, ‘well I wonder if there’s anything there for us? I wonder if as Solomon talks to these young men maybe Gods going to talk to me.’ Maybe God’s talking to us with some of His wisdom.
Things that we looked at last week, things like keeping bad company and what to do in a panic attack and what to do when people don’t match up to our expectations. Really cool stuff and if you missed any of those programs you can listen to them again online or download them and I’ll let you know at the end of the program how to do that.
Today we’re going to continue along the same vein with a question. When our plans unravel, when it all gets uncertain, when it all gets scary, does faith work?
One of the pieces of advice Solomon that gave to these young men along the way is this. It’s in Proverbs chapter 16, verse 9. It says this:
In our hearts we plan our journey but the Lord determines our steps.
It’s a bit of fatherly wisdom and advice. Well let’s unpack that a little bit more. “In our hearts we plan our journey.”
That’s true. We all have hopes and dreams for the future. Some of them are big hopes and big dreams. Some of them are kind of at the life level. And then there are small ones, day to day ones. The little plans that we have for today and tomorrow and this week and next week.
On that ‘life’ level, on the macro level we have a plan to grow up and to get married and to be happy. And to have a good job and plenty of money and a couple of kids. And for them to grow up and get married and to be happy. You know, that’s sort of our life plan.
We all want that basically with different variations. Very few people’s lives go completely like that though, don’t they? My parents were post war immigrants and they came from the battered Europe to emigrate to a better life in Australia. And they worked really hard so that their kids, myself and my sister, could have a better life. And we did. We had so much more than they ever had.
My sister was studying to be a concert pianist in Italy in her early twenties when she came home and she’d been struck down by schizophrenia and that robbed her of all her future and all the life she had planned. You know life hasn’t been what her life should have been.
We don’t plan that stuff in life. That’s nobody’s fault, we just don’t plan for it in our plans and hopes and dreams.
And at a day-to-day level, you know a few years back I remember when my kids were young and microwaves had just come in. And one morning I got up and I had plans for work and this and that and the other. And like we all did in those days because microwaves were new we did everything with our microwaves including boiling the water for our cup of coffee.
And I was just taking a cup of boiling water out of the microwave when my little 2-year old son reached up and he slammed the microwave door onto the boiling cup of water and it poured down the left hand side of my face. It was very painful. The next thing I knew I was in the back of an ambulance and I spent the day in hospital in pain. I didn’t plan for that for my day.
Yet good things and bad things happen to people who believe in God and people who don’t believe in God. Christians get cancer. They lose children. They get retrenched. That stuff just happens and when it does we can lose our dreams. Our lives can feel shattered and in our hearts we plan our journeys but God determines our steps.
What’s that bit of advice that Solomon was trying to get across to his boys? What was he trying to say here? Well, we know the first part.
“In our hearts we plan our journey.”
Well we’ll say amen to that. Absolutely. We all do that. But God determines our steps.
Someone I really respect once said this to me. ‘Berni, do you know what peace is?’ I said, ‘Nup.’ He said, ‘Peace is trusting in the sovereignty of God.’ That’s good. Peace is trusting in the sovereignty of God. In our hearts we plan our journeys but God determines our steps.
Wow, what a great piece of advice because I think Solomon was trying to bring peace into these young men’s lives. He knew stuff would go bad for them. It’s just the way life goes. Relationships break up. We have our ups and we have our downs.
And Solomon is bringing peace into these young men’s lives because when it doesn’t go well, it’s still okay. God’s still right there with you. You may well have planned your plans and dreamed your dreams and hoped your hopes in your heart. But God’s there and He determines our steps. Every step.
I look back on my life and there are several things that I really would never have planned for or hoped for. In fact there are several things I would not plan for, for my worst enemy in his life or her life. There were some big issues in life. And now I look back on last week and there were some smaller day-to-day issues that I wouldn’t have chosen for myself.
I don’t know one person who’s been around the block a few dozen times who wouldn’t say that about their lives. There have been great parts of their lives but there have been some bits they would rather not have had. Some bits that they would rather wouldn’t have happened.
But as I look back on the last decade and a half or so, which is the time I’ve been walking with Jesus. I look back at all the blessings, the unreal blessings, there have been some real crises on top of that as well. And you know something, those crises in my life, those difficult times, they were the things that have humbled me. That have taught me. They’re the things that have made me useful to you.
And there have been some outstanding blessings along the way as well. Like the most wonderful wife. You know a dozen or so years ago we didn’t have two pennies to rub together. Today we have our own home. We have health. We have joy. We have peace. We have ….
God has blessed us with so much but the biggest blessing, the biggest blessing is the peace that I have in my heart because every day I know I don’t have to control the outcomes anymore. I know that when things don’t go according to my plans I don’t have to worry anymore.
I don’t have to stress. I don’t have to run around in a panic attack like Mr Bean because even though in my heart I plan my journey, God determines my steps. I know that His plan is so much better than my plans. And when things go awry, when things aren’t quite the way I want them to be, it’s in those times that He teaches me. That He grows me. That He matures me. That He softens me.
Everything He does, He does out of His love.
In our hearts we plan our journeys but God determines our steps.