"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.' As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."--James 4:13-17 After all this talk about making goals and tackling the elephants, I did want to make an interjection. Although I had mentioned that our goals and plans need to come from the Lord, I sensed that I needed to emphasize that a little more strongly. Mainly for my own sake, just as much as anyone else's. Maybe it's because I am starting to feel the aches and pains of growing older. They are reminding me that my time on earth is limited. I don't have forever. In fact, I may not even have tomorrow, as James suggests in the verses above.
When I make plans as if I am the god of my own life, James calls it boasting and bragging, which is evil. The fact is, I do not know my future. And if I arrogantly believe that whatever I plan is going to happen, I am acting foolishly. If I do not make plans without seeing if they line up with God's purposes, I may succeed in getting what I want done, but completely fail in accomplishing His purposes for my life.
The truth is, though, that great as my plans may be, and even if I seem to succeed in getting where I want to go, it is His purposes that will prevail. (Remember Prov. 19:21--"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.") For me, that could be seen as a relief, that in the end, His will will be done---I can't mess it up. Or it could be a source of frustration. Why should we make plans in the first place if in the end, God is the one who has the ultimate power to nix them? Does goal-setting have a place in our lives?
Lining Up with His Purposes
I believe it does. But the key lies in spending time getting those goals from God first and foremost. God has plans for us. Psalm 139 tells us that He has our days ordained for us, even from our mother's womb (verse 16b). Eph. 2:10 tells us that He has work that He has planned beforehand for us to do. The question then is asking God to help us to line up our goals with His plans for us, so that our days are filled with what He wants us to do. As Moses prayed in Psalm 90:12, "So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom." (NASB)
If that is the case, I need to first let Him reveal those plans to us. We need to ask Him questions, not make statements. What do You have ordained for me? What are Your good works that You have planned for me to do---today, tomorrow, or in ten years? How do You want me to spend my time today so that I fulfill Your goals for my life? Will these goals only serve me or will they further Your kingdom?
Perhaps I should have started with this post, but these thoughts are a work-in-progress too. These are things I wrestle with as I am making my own plans. So here they are for today. Before we move ahead any further, let's make time to fully submit ourselves to Him.
Heavenly Father, how awesome it is that You want us to be a part of Your kingdom plans! How amazing that my one little life can be a tool to bring others closer to Jesus. I may make plans, but ultimately, they are in Your hands. I humbly lay them at Your feet. If You want to change them, feel free to do so. If they need to be abandoned completely, may I do so with a willing heart. May my desire be only for You and You alone. Amen.