Sometimes in life it's not until you are looking back that you can see God is moving in your life. The start of 2020 was brimming with possibilities and a planned out approach to how it was going to unfold from my perspective. University, work and ministry was all set out nicely before me.
I had just received a journal for Christmas with the words from Proverbs 16:9 emblazoned on the cover had my motto for the year on it. Little did I know that this motto would be redefined, reshaped and my understanding of this verse for my life was going to be drastically changed due to what was going to play out in 2020.
“For a Man plans his course, but the Lord is the one that orders the steps.”
I actually didn’t start this journal until the 23rd of April of 2020 and at that time things in the world had been turned upside down by Covid-19. It wasn’t just me that had seen my so perfectly tuned out plan turned on its head it was the whole world. I have to say in my 39 years of life I have never seen such an event occur.
One that impacted everyone and put all of us in the place where we did not know what tomorrow was going to bring.
So that course that I was telling you about was my course. It was the one that I planned out, that I worked out the details, that I thought was a pretty steady and stable one. I was sure that 2020 would role out as I had planned. The common factor in this sentence was “I” and I would be tested along the journey of the past year.
The Bible’s Perspective on Planning
The Bible tells us to actually to do this and that we should plan out our courses. There is so much in Scripture that talks about planning. Stories of the meticulous plans of the Israelites camp set up in the wilderness years, including the tabernacle may come to mind (Exodus 26).
Or maybe the detailed instructions around the Lord’s temple that Solomon was commissioned by God to build is another instance (1 Chronicles Chapter 28). Or even the plan for the disciples to go and wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit in the upper room (Acts Chapter 1) I could go on and on with examples in the Bible that planning is part of God’s plan.
In my early years being a follower of Jesus I was very zealous in nature and combined with my go with the flow personality I thought that planning, well that's just for those who didn’t really have Faith. This position or understanding of God saw me take huge risks in business, study and relationships.
But along with the good, there were timeless occasions that saw me experience great disappointment when things didn’t work out. What my challenge of the last 20 years is how do I both plan and at the same time maintain the ability to adapt when needed or more importantly when God has a different course for you.
I think that is where this verse of Proverbs 16:9 rings true to our lives. The question is how do we become people who plan, but also at the same time become people that can alter our direction if something changes that was unforeseen.
This lesson is one I am still learning, but I believe that over the years I have gleaned some wisdom from the testimonies that have come from my life in which I have planned, I have pursued those plans sure of how they were going to work out and then haven’t had my plans fulfilled when I was certain that they were the steps I was supposed to walk out.
When you read the word but…in a verse you know that you need to pay attention to the whole verse and it's no different in this case and maybe herein lies the way we are supposed to balance our lives between people who plan and people who trust, and specifically trust Him.
The next part of the verse reads “But the Lord Determines His Steps”
I take a lot of comfort from this verse, because it tells me that ultimately that while I am called to plan that God is in control of my steps and if I listen and am obedient I will find the best course that He has written out for me.
As a good father he allows me the opportunity to plan a course, to use the lessons of wisdom that I developed over time and to let me boast in my victories. He also as a good father allows me to make mistakes when I have held too tight to the plan. It's in these times we realise why the ‘but’ verse is there in Proverbs 16:9.
It is there to remind us that we are his sons and daughters and that we always need to go back and check that the course we planned out is in line with the steps that the Lord is determining. If we are on track to keep stepping forward in the course and if we off the path of his steps to get back in line, humble ourselves and to trust that He is God and He knows us better than we know ourselves.
So as I said at the start it's not until you reflect and see what God is doing in a year that you realise how much you have grown and that God as the good father continues to raise you as the Son or daughter he knows you are.
We are always learning, He is always giving us opportunities to grow, and he will always be with you in step as you find His course in the midst of the plans you planned listening to His voice.
Justin Monaghan (Adelaide) is married to his beautiful wife and together they pursue being his Kingdom agents through their intentional Jesus community house in Glenelg. Justin is also a prophetic artist under the label JR Faith Creations as well is pursuing a career in the entertainment industry with his new studies in VFX and digital illustration at university. He is a lover of surfing and anything adventurous.