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Plan Making and Breaking

Plan Making and Breaking

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21

If there were a verse that could sum up 2020, perhaps this would be it. What a year of a ruined and discarded plans it has been, and we’re barely into May!

But it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Does the second half of that verse bring you hope?

For me, it depends on the day. And it depends on the plan.

For 2020, I’d set myself the goal of visiting every Australian capital city, and I was planning to visit North Carolina in July to see my family and cuddle my friends’ new babies. That goal is looking unlikely, and at this point, a trip home is nearly impossible. Hello ruined plans.

Truthfully though, 2020 has been comparatively kind to me. Not only am I still employed, but I absolutely love my job. It is challenging, fun, and I feel like what I’m doing is impactful. I have a good network of friends, a strong and connected church, and a reliable internet connection. I’m doing alright.

But I’m no stranger to broken plans. None of us are. I’ve been rejected by universities I’ve wanted to attend, rejected by people I’ve tried to love, rejected by organizations I thought I was qualified to work for. And I’ve contributed to broken plans – I have been selfish and careless with my plans and actions, hurting other people. I resonate with Isaiah – I am a broken human, in a broken world (Isaiah 6:5).

Whether it’s been a stack of broken plans in 2020, or a lifetime of accumulated ‘what could have beens,’ our broken plans have a way of making us resentful. And this resentment can get in the way of us reading “but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” with the earth-shattering hope it should bring.

I think David phrases our reality well in Psalm 8:

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?” – Psalm 8:3-4

Who are we, really, to be resentful? Who are we that God would be mindful of us?

But that’s that radical thing, hey? The all-powerful, all-knowing, wholly good God is mindful of us. He cares about our plans, our hopes, our dreams, our deepest and most desperate desires. He’s just inviting us into a more eternal perspective.

Psalm 146 makes the contrast clear. Our plans, tied up in worldly desires and ambition? They end with us. But the Lord?

“The Lord sets the prisoners free;
     the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
 The Lord watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!”

The Lord will reign forever. As will His plans.

I don’t want to belittle our plans, and neither does the Lord. There are many things in my life I wish had gone to plan, and many more things I wish I could adjust and change. While I’ve seen God’s hand in many of my broken plans, I am still lost as to why he would say no to others. But my perspective is ephemeral, His eternal.

“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will” – Ephesians 1:4-5

Before the beginning of the world He planned for us redemption, adoption, restoration. Before our plans had been formed, before our mistakes had been made, He planned for us reconciliation, hope, salvation. Before we had the capacity to desire for ourselves, He desired us.

So let us see the joy and hope that is found in Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

Strong are our hopes and desires, our plans and aims and goals, but stronger still is the redemptive power of the cross. Big are our plans for ourselves, but mightier by unimaginable measure are God’s plans for His people. And praise God, it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

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Jessica Fields

Jessica Fields is a coffee-drinking, world-traveling, soon-to-be graduate student. She grew up in Winston-Salem, went to college in Chapel Hill, and will be living in Brisbane, Australia for the foreseeable future. She is passionate about Jesus and the radically transformative power of the Gospel. She also loves baking and cozy afternoons, so consider yourself invited over for baked goods, coffee, and chats about faith and life!

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