For years, the last couple of weeks of the year were a flurry of activity for me. This was goal-setting time, a time to reflect on what I accomplished over the past year and make plans for what I would aspire to do in the year to come. I had one-year plans, three-year plans, five-year plans, and ten-year plans. I laid out everything neatly and precisely. While my goals would evolve, I always had a roadmap for my life.
I was leaving as little to chance as possible. “The man who fails to plan plans to fail”, or so the saying goes. But, to quote another famous saying, “Man plans, God laughs.” Except I’m not sure God was laughing at all the plans I was making. I think shaking His head might be more accurate.
Looking back at all those plans now, I can hear the Lord speaking to me through the music of Keith Green:
My son, my son, why are you striving
You can’t add one thing to what’s been done for you
I did it all while I was dying
Rest in your faith, my peace will come to you1Keith Green, Melody Green. “When I Hear The Praises Start”, lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
I bought into the personal development mentality for years. I wanted to be the best I could be and reach my potential. As the years went by, my goals became more spiritually focused, but they were still about me. Instead of monetary goals, I set goals for Bible reading, memorization, and completing writing projects that would help others live for Christ.
All that striving was futile. The time spent planning was wasted time. When a plan fell through, I’d spend more time planning a new plan. Striving, striving, striving. All I really needed to do was rest. The truth was that was all I wanted as well. All those plans were in hopes someday I’d come to a place where I could just rest and find a little peace. Again, man plans and God laughs. As soon as I let go of all the striving, I found rest. When I stopped stressing over the next ten years, I found peace.
Now my only plans are to get up early enough each day to have a few hours to spend alone with Jesus. When I pray, I pray for the day before me, and rarely for anything beyond that. It is this day we have been given. We are promised no more days beyond this one. I’ve discovered if I live this day well for Christ’s Kingdom and His purposes, the rest take care of themselves.
Jesus told us not to worry about tomorrow. He said to focus on His Kingdom today and He would take care of the rest (Matthew 6:31-33). This should be our strategy for the New Year. Plan for today, trust God with the rest. Our plans will fail anyway, so why not trust God’s plans which never fail? It seems like an easy decision, but if you’re like me, it may take you a couple of decades to make this simple choice. Ask God for enough to get you through this day and nothing more. Praise Him when He grants a little extra. Praise Him when there’s a little less than you hoped. In all things, praise Him (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). You don’t need big plans; you just need a little faith in Jesus.
- 1Keith Green, Melody Green. “When I Hear The Praises Start”, lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC