Thursday, May 5, 2011
Some people plan ahead for almost everything they do, particularly important, potentially life-changing things. The Bible supports this--remember the ant, after all. But planning has pitfalls, too. Somewhere among the to-do lists, and appointment books, and the calendars lurks a growing dependence on the assurance that plans protect us, that they truly determine how life's circumstances work out.
We have this game we play when we are trying to make decisions. It's called the "What's the worst that could happen?" game. We puzzle through hard circumstances, then we spread them out before us and ask ourselves to identify the worst thing that could happen if we implemented the plan we'd just devised. This method works pretty well to pinpoint flaws in our thinking, and helps to prepare us in advance for adverse circumstances, but we rarely think of all eventualities. Often, circumstances take a completely different turn.
Advance thought and planning can help avoid some of life's pitfalls, but we just can't out-plan You. I can build strong-looking towers of preparations, but if I depend on them to take me to safety, without understanding Your dominion over them, the worst will happen. In practice, this whole dangerous procedure starts with me being what looks for all the world like faithful. I study my Bible and pray for guidance. I glean as much understanding as I can, then use what I learn to start sketching little flow charts. If I do this, then so-and-so might do that... This is where the ant starts dragging crumbs into the anthill for winter. Of course, Your character and commandments figure into the dragging. God's Word says this, so I have to do that... Eventually, I've laid out a road to go down and am confident that I am following you on it.
I keep forgetting this method's biggest flaw, however. I am not You. I can reason through some of your wisdom, but never all of it, which means that, unless I have heard Your audible word, when I lean too heavily on my tower, it will fall. And it crashes loud and hard. I get hurt, I get mad, I accuse You of failing me when I have simply not let You be the only thing You can be--perfect. I have substituted my plan for trust. I keep forgetting what You told me:
I have loved you...Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends. --John 15:13-15
Plans help, but I cannot value them more than You. They help organize thinking and even ease practical concerns, but they do not protect. You lay down your life for me. I can trust You.