Plans, plans
Pause for thought

The best laid schemes

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“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8 NIV

When it has been my privilege to lead Bible studies, I often find myself telling the group about “Rule One”. "Rule One" is my somewhat irreverent paraphrase of the first commandment. It goes like this: “God is God, you are not! Get over yourself!”

While it is true that we have been made in the likeness of God, it is very troubling to see so many redeemed believers trying to make God into their image. Be assured - this does not, and can not, end well!

I hear people saying all the time that they have "put their faith in God”, but then they act like they are really really not convinced God knows what He is doing! They are even willing to go as far as discarding his promise that he is working everything together for the good of those who are his called and start harboring suspicions that He is mad at them in some way! How absurd! It becomes even worse when they decide they need to take over God’s job and make plans for Him!

“Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” is an old Yiddish proverb which means, “Man Plans, and God Laughs.”

Or as my favorite Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote, “the best laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft agley (a-wry), and leave us naught but grief and pain for promised joy”. [Burns would have been 361 years old on January 25th! Feel free to hold a Burns’ supper and break out the virtual haggis, neeps and tatties to celebrate with me. Don’t forget to put candles on top!]

Now, it’s not as if God hasn’t explained this to us. He has! Multiple times! Check out Proverbs 19:2. Go ahead and look it up! [Google is your friend!]

One of the problems with deciding to take over from God is that we may inadvertently be “stealing” the joy of the person God has lined up to take care of the additional concern about which we have decided we know “better”. I can imagine the loving exasperation of the Father holding His head in his hands and saying, “if only they would have trusted me this would have been so much better!”

Part of God’s planning which has become more and more obvious to us over the centuries is that His Church is made up of people with extraordinary abilities, diverse talents and gifts through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In 1 Corinthians 12 - yes, the chapter before the famous one - Paul lists a bunch of the capabilities (he calls them “gifts”) which the Holy Spirit lovingly hands out to individuals when He lives in them. The purpose of these gifts in the church is to ensure everyone can get efficiently involved and be productive in God’s plan for the human race. Every believer (including you) gets at least one, sometimes more. Yours is perfectly “tailored” to you and would not be as effective in someone else.

Paul cautions us against envy and jealousy - you don’t want your eyes trying to smell or your nose to see - very funny Paul - but we get the point! More to the point, God has other helpers properly equipped to do their job - as long as we don’t get in the way. So when you see needs in this world - and the Lord knows there are no shortage of those - may I suggest the following prayer:

“Thanks, Lord, for entrusting me with this job. I know you know what you’re doing and I get it that your plan is better than any we humans could come up with. I also believe that this plan will succeed spectacularly so that You are glorified. I will assume, and rely on the fact that you have someone else taking care of all the other associated jobs that just crowded into my head - unless you point out to me that I haven’t been listening properly. I promise to do my part and support them in theirs. Thanks again for your love.”

I have come to love a song by Chris Machen and Mike Harland (listen on YouTube here ). The payoff line for me is this: “…and when we don’t understand the purpose of the plan, in the presence of the King - bow the knee!”

So don’t get mad at God because he hasn’t explained the big picture to you, just be glad, and rely on the fact that there is a bigger picture. It’s not your responsibility to know it all. God’s got it! He has it thought through. He has allocated exactly the right resources, including you, to see it through to glorious completion.

Did I already mention “Rule One”? Keep all body parts inside the Church and enjoy the ride!

Sunday February 14th, 2021
Sunday December 20th, 2020