I Have a Plan, God Has a Will

One friend of mine was always ready with a comment when things would not go as planned — “If you want to make God laugh, make plans!” I often did not appreciate her snarky sense of humor, especially when major adjustments had to be made in very important plans. But, I began to see the wisdom of what she was trying to tell me — ultimately, God is always in charge.
The Apostle Paul had an interesting plan for building up a group of believers and then launching out into unreached areas of their world: It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. …

now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, 
I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.
Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there.
For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem.” Romans 15:20, 23-26
According to this simple, good plan, he would head out to Spain for evangelism after an encouragement visit to the Roman believers. He just needed to take a small 2,000 mile detour to bring aid to the suffering believers in Jerusalem, gifts that he had collected for two years from the churches in Macedonia and Achaia.
Interestingly, Paul did everything he planned, just not the way he planned it. When he got to Jerusalem he immediately encountered hostility from the non-believing Jewish leaders, many of whom had been his colleagues when he was a Pharisee. Their hatred erupted in several attempts on his life, multiple trials, a three-year imprisonment, and a harrowing sea journey through high storms and a shipwreck. But ultimately, he landed peacefully on Italy’s shores, was greeted warmly by his fellow believers and escorted to Rome like a hero while still a Roman prisoner. Most historians also believe that he was able to make his evangelistc trip to Spain.
When I was 22, I was on a Senior Panic Retreat, designed to help Christian college students sort out God’s will for their life. One assignment was to write down your ten-year plan and seal it in an envelope. Like Paul, I realized in hindsight that my plan kind of came true, but God took me along a very different path to bring me to becoming a pastor at age thirty.
Even Jesus had a My Plan, God’s Will moment. In the garden of Gethsemane, He begged for his plan — let this cup pass from Me. But then He was resolute — but Your will be done. While we are not often pleased that our plans fall through, I sure am glad that Jesus’ plea/plan failed. I am glad that God’s will prevailed, Jesus marched to the cross, and stretched out His arms exposing His wrists to the torturous nails, embracing the wrath of God on our behalf. 
Believe it or not, I am not a big planner. I prefer to go with the flow and take one day as it comes. But as HOS, I don’t have that luxury. So I labor and agonize, collaborate and endure countless revisions until the plan is finished. And in the back of my mind I hear my friend’s chuckling comment, “If you want to make God laugh, make plans.” I have learned the necessity of planning and intentionality, but have learned to do so with open hands.
God’s Word reminds us: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Prov. 19:21) and The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Prov. 16:9. And even more strongly in James 4:13-15 God instructs us, Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
In a few days, we will be rolling out our Reopening and Biosecurity Plan. Doctors, teachers and administrators have been researching the issues. We are listening to the clamor on all sides and trying to tune out the noise and make data-based plans. And we are borrowing heavily from ACSI schools that have put together lawyer-vetted and medically-vetted plans.  I am sure that we will not make everyone perfectly happy. But I trust that you know that we care deeply for your children and your family. We care deeply for their education. And we are planning on both and in-person, at-school option and an at-home option to best fit your needs.
Yet, at the end of the day, not my will but His be done. Your fellow servant-warrior, Christopher
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