Learning to “Un-Plan”

What’s your calendar look like for the next month?

If it’s anything like our family’s its a jumble – especially this time of year – of sports practices, competitions, art classes for the lone girl-child of the family who longs for creative outlets, travel for work – both mine and my husband’s – and more.

As we march toward summer, school becomes more frantic with a lot more “THROW ON YOUR SHOES, I CAN SEE THE BUS!!!! WAIT WHERE’S YOUR JACKET!?” and a lot less gentleness and calm hugs as we stroll toward the bus stop.

There’s a lot more running – literal running – at this time in the year than there is at the calm start, when the new schedule feels exciting and doable.

And that’s just the start of it. Our family’s plans – and my own plans – don’t stop with the calendar for the month ahead.

We have dreams for summer trips, and bookings to schedule. We have thoughts about the best school to send our oldest to next year, unsure of whether the current option is right for him.

And beyond that, there’s more. We have career aspirations (my husband), books to write that right now just live in my head and maybe a few notebooks (me), though some have made it to an actual typed out draft. We have thoughts about adding on to our home. Goodness, we even talk about where we want to live when we retire (somewhere warm).

Our conversations with friends often revolve around topics like this – what’s next? What’s after that? Hopes, dreams, so on.

It’s not that these things are bad.

It’s not wrong to have hopes dreams and desires.

But, lately I’ve been reflecting on various scriptures relating to a project I’m working on, and one that has stuck with me is Proverbs 19:21:

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
    but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

We’re good at planning; and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

But, I think our plans go deeper than crowded calendar notes.

Sometimes we base our worth on whether we are living up to them or not. We see what’s happening around us as right or wrong based on whether we’re keeping our appointments, reaching our our dreams, and achieving all it is we hope to achieve.

Our plans are many, as this writer in Proverbs points out so succinctly.

But plans and purpose are two different things

In our heads, if we’re achieving what we set out to achieve, we’re doing well. Yet the Bible tells us time and time again that it’s the Lord’s purpose in each of our lives and for this whole world that will endure: they’ll be what matter for eternity.

Whether we make it to T-ball practice or not, or whether the next book I put on paper is read by a single person (or even becomes a book in the first place), it has nothing to do with God’s purpose unless it is ordained by him and part of his plan instead of my own.

And yet – our plans and our successes are our measure.

We take the gifts and talents God has given us, and we decide how to use them, instead of giving them back to him, asking to to align our dreams and hopes with his plan.

We take the greatest gift of all – assurance that everything here has a purpose that is beyond us – and we cheapen it by determining what we think it should all look like. We’re really good at it.

We listen to the voices around us, we watch the successes of people we know and people we follow online, and we use those as the measures for our own lives… when none of those things were ever meant to be the measure again.

Our worth has nothing to do with our plans. Our worth has everything to do with the fact that the God of the universe lovingly and individually created each one of us and set us on a specific purpose that’s part of a great picture that we will never be able to see on this side of heaven. Our worth has everything to do with the fact that he loves us enough that 2000 years ago he sent his son to be born, live among us, and die on a cross to cover over all of our sins – the very thing we’re getting close to remembering as Easter approaches.

And yet… we keep planning.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s okay to keep a calendar. I honestly don’t know how any of us would remember anything without writing it down somewhere in a central location.

But, if we’re using our schedules, our dreams, and whether or not we’re hitting the benchmarks we’ve set for ourselves to decide whether or not we have worth, whether or not we are successful, or whether or not we are content… it’s time to rethink it.

It’s time to remember that it’s the Lord’s plan that endures, whether we’re walking in it or not.

For me, that means learning to un-plan. To give my walk to God each and every day, asking him to direct my path and set things on my heart that he would have for me. To look away from what I see online and the longing and striving I feel when I seem to fall short, and to look at his truth instead.

What role does your plan play in your life and your heart today? Are you able to give it to God to find true rest and satisfaction? Can you un-plan?

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