December 11, 2015

Best Laid Plans

What a lovely day! Yes, it is a cool and cloudy day here in Phoenix. It is Friday, hooray, and I am home from school (my last official day) so that I can attend graduation tonight. My nephew is graduating from Grand Canyon so my brother and sister-in-law are driving in from Southern California to celebrate and spend the weekend with us. It should be fun, well, fun for my nephew. I am participating in graduation as Faculty, and I am looking forward to doing that later this afternoon. I decided it would be the last time I could walk in the ceremony where I had a family member graduating (LOL!) Best laid plans, as they say, may turn into a nightmare considering that all the colleges are staging graduation tonight rather than spreading the ceremony over three days like they do in the spring. Sigh!

Best Laid Plans

I always remember this line from the Robert Burns poem, "To the Mouse," whenever I think about making any plan of action:

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Yes, often our best laid plans turn out to be in vain. They don't always produce good results, and sometimes (not always) seem to end in "grief and pain" rather than the hoped for "promised joy." Selah!

Today, though, I am thinking about the plans the Lord has for my life, and how His plans, His counsel (as Psalm 33:11 says) will stand forever. The Lord's plan of action, from His grand scheme beginning in eternity to the individual expressed and personalized will He has for each one of His children -- well -- His plan will always come to pass. The interesting thing is that often we say that the Lord's plan for our life will come to pass, but then when we experience trial or upset, the first thing we do is curse God for not fulfilling His side of the bargain. It is as if we can do no wrong, that some how God is there to meet and deliver our every wish, want or desire. The truth, of course, is that the Lord does indeed have a plan for His children, but in order to walk in that plan, the child (me, for example) must enter into a right relationship with Him, and then must remain in that right relationship to receive the guidance and counsel necessary to ensure that the plan does come to pass. The Lord makes the plan; His child walks in it. It cannot be the other way around, like so many people assume. They believe that they can make the plan, and the Lord will ascent (give His approval). Then they can walk in whatever way they desire, and some how, mysteriously their plan will ALWAYS succeed.

I have learned that this is never the case. The Lord is the one with the plan, and while human beings can certainly go their own way, do their own thing, and walk however they wish, the Lord's will and His plan are within His keeping alone. Therefore, for a Child of God to walk in the Lord's way, His will, and to accomplish the expressed purpose He has for them, this child MUST be in a close and very personal relationship with the Lord. This close and personal relationship is also an ongoing, continuous thing -- it is not a one-time shot -- but it is a lifestyle of personal relationship predicated on communion, communication, and commitment. The believer in Christ Jesus must enter into the relationship through the manifold blessing of His grace, but once they have entered in, they must remain, they must live daily in this relationship, placing priority and importance on it. You see, it is just like with any friendship you may have -- the closer the friendship -- the more time is spent in proximity to the friend. You can be an acquaintance or a best friend, but you cannot be both. The same is true for the Lord. He is either an acquaintance or He is a best friend. If He is the former, then the likelihood that the relationship takes precedence over daily concerns is slim. However, if He is the latter, than the likelihood that the relationship receives importance is greater. It is really simple. If you want a close and personal relationship with the Lord, then you have to spend time with Him (in prayer, in reading the word, in communion and fellowship with other believers, etc.) 

As I have developed my relationship with the Lord, I have come to learn of His plan for my life. It didn't happen over night, though. I had to spend a lot of time, like years, in relationship, in learning how to trust Him, know Him, and experience Him before I was able to really grasp that He did indeed have a plan for my life. For many years, I believed that the only plan He had was for me to come to know Him (as in being saved). I never realized that He wanted me to "do something" for His Name and His Kingdom. The more time I spent with Him, in close and personal relationship, the more I became aware of His presence, and the more I was able to listen to His voice. The word says that His sheep hear His voice (meaning His people can hear Him speak to them), and it is through the word and through prayer that we receive instruction for every aspect of our lives. Moreover, outside of general instruction to daily living -- the nuts and bolts of Godly living -- there is inspiration that comes through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who communicates to us God's unique and wonderful plan for our life. I have experienced this wonderful conversation whereby I heard the Lord tell me what He intended me to do with my life. This conversation communicated to me, somewhere deep in my spirit and within my mind, the path that I am on today. I believed that the word I received, the testimony, was to direct my steps, to put me in a way that would lead me to where I am today. I mean, I am doing what I believe the Lord called me, asked me, and yes, told me to do.

There have been times when I was confused with that knowledge, I mean, there were times when I thought one thing, but in the end, something completely different came to pass. There were times when I didn't know what to do, where to go, or even how to do what the Lord was asking me to do. I trusted Him, relied on Him, prayed without ceasing to Him, and in the end, yes, I received the instruction I needed, a door opened, or a personal witness showed up to provide confirmation to me. I found the way out, the way through, and sometimes, a way around that confusion to keep me moving forward, to keep me heading in this direction.

All of this is to say simply that it is impossible to know the plans the Lord has for your life unless you KNOW THE LORD. You must be in a right relationship with Him, stay in that right relationship, and spend quality time (all the time) with Him. Your prayer life is not just one day a week, but it is 24/7 and 365 days a year. Your Bible reading time is not just on Sundays, but it is every day, throughout the day. Your conversation with the Lord is not in formalized prayers and petitions, but it is friendly, the kind of conversation you would have with your best friend. Your time spent in His presence is not all about your wants, desires or wishes, but it is about Him. You are in humble submission, willingly submitted and yielded, and your time is spent praising, honoring, and worshiping Him. In this way, you experience this amazing freedom, relief, and provision (spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental) to where your mind forsakes the humanistic endeavors of the past (what humans can do) and begins to embrace a Kingdom perspective (what God can do). This mind shift is what changes everything because the more you embrace His plan, the more you see His will for His creation, the more you are able to see your purpose, your function, your part in the grand scheme.

The beautiful thing is that the Lord has a plan for His creation and a plan for your life and for mine. He has His overarching plan to see the world saved, and He has His personal plan to empower, embolden, and encourage His children to participate in His overarching plan. In some ways, there is just ONE plan, but the Lord needs workers to help Him achieve this plan. He could do it all on His own, but He prefers to work through His children, to partner with them so that they participate in the blessing of seeing His creation redeemed. It is a marvelous thing, and when you grasp hold of the beauty of His plan, you realize just how amazing He really is. He is so WONDERFUL, so GOOD.

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