Proverbs 19:21 NRSV
The human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.
Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.'” Luke 12:16-21 NRSV
There is an amazing dynamic between our free will and God’s purposes. And the proverb is right: We do devise many plans! In fact, some of us are downright compulsive about our pre-planning (as if planning would somehow control everything!).
Last December some of our school’s music groups were putting on a concert at the local performing arts theater. I asked our school secretary if she would put a printed program together for us. She was so kind to agree to do that. In doing so, she sent me an email that went something like this: “Do you have a list of students who will be participating? What am I thinking? Of course you have a list. I’m sure you have lists and lists!” Her point being, of course, that I’m compulsive about writing down everything that needs to be done. I say that I do it so that I won’t forget. But there’s also something within me that likes order and doing lists helps to satisfy that longing to order everything . . . to control.
Now there’s certainly nothing wrong in writing lists. But there is something wrong in so trying to order everything around me (including the future) that I fail to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit when He wants to divert me away from my lists to something else. The fact is, my lists aren’t important! What’s important are the people around me. And when I refuse to walk away from my lists (or my calendar) to minister to them, I am refusing to do the will of the Father.
The parable that the Lord Jesus told about the rich man and his barns had to do with the man refusing to look around him and minister to his neighbors. The man had goals, dreams, a vision of what he could accomplish for his life. Perhaps he was afraid of an uncertain future that might lead him into suffering and poverty. So he worked hard and made plans. And the Lord called him foolish. Why? Because the treasure he could have stored up for himself was trust.
God’s purposes will be established! If we trust Him, we will embrace those purposes and not worry about whether we are in control or not. Our plans aren’t important. Only what we do in being obedient for God is!