Sunday, November 18, 2012

Planning - Part II

Planning is neither good nor bad in and of itself. We like to feel that we are in control of our lives and planning is one way to introduce an element of control over at least some portion of our daily activities.

There is, of course, a broad spectrum of opinions as to the value of planning.  On one end we have the "go with the flow" crowd, who would sooner have an unplanned root canal that to plan enough time into their daily schedule to brush and floss.

On the other end is the "if it isn't on the schedule, we don't have time for it" crowd.  People in this category often end up teaching things like corporate time management seminars. (She wrote sheepishly.)

I believe the healthiest folks are those who are able to move back and forth along the spectrum, sometimes planning carefully, and other times just letting events unfold.  How I envy such people. There are even times, these days, when I can break bread with them and appreciate their perspective; but it took many painful life-lessons before I was able to do this.

God sent me to the "Chastened Planners Remedial Camp" - more than once - before I finally relaxed my death grip upon trying to control outcomes.  It is not by happenstance, that Twelve Step programs often remind their participants that "becoming overly attached to a desired outcome" is just one slippery step away from a relapse into addictive behavior.  That is scary stuff.
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So what kinds of plans can get a person into hot water?  Since planning itself is neither positive nor negative, what is it that can occur within that process that pushes the planner into the dark side of the spectrum?

Here are a couple of thoughts that you should feel free toss right on over the fence, if they do not ring true.

Planning for a personal objective, without regard to the thoughts, feelings, or needs of others.  In other words, planning rooted in selfish ambition.

All a man's ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.
Proverbs 21:2 (NIV)

The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. (Proverbs 21:5 (NIV)

I do not think it is by accident that these two verses are found so close to each other.  Diligence that is also caring and generous leads to profitable productivity.  But a plan that is fed by something selfish in a person's heart, is weighed by God - and generally requires corrective action, for our own good and for the good of those who might otherwise be hurt by our actions.

King David had a plan to obtain Bathsheba.  He executed his plan (along with her husband) and she became his.  But the following outcomes were rife with broken hearts, loss and death.

A plan rooted in a selfish objective may be successful in the short term, but it will ultimately be doomed in God's grand design.

Planning that is based upon faulty information or a skewed premise.  

I recall the "dress for success" and "if it feels good do it" campaigns of the seventies and eighties.  If you looked good and felt good, then whatever you planned to do would turn out okay.  

Ask any of the beautiful actresses or handsome young actors, with wardrobes to die for and money to burn, whose bodies have been found after an overdose, how well that premise worked out for them.  They had a plan for stardom.  A desire to conquer the world. And sometimes they achieved it.

But the entire premise upon which they built their lives was sand, and eventually the house came tumbling down.
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Too little planning can result in chaos, but too much planning can result in heart failure.  A heart that has failed to recognize that God's plan is better than our plan, and that His timing is better than our timing.

If you are discouraged about a plan you have worked upon long and hard, and for which you are seeing little or no results, I encourage you to let go, even just a little.  Step back.  Take a deep breath.

God may be working out a solution that you have yet to recognize.  He is in the planning business and his plans include knowing the beginning from the end, an advantage we would do well to remember.

Some wit observed, "For a child of God it all works out all right in the end.  If it isn't working out, then it isn't the end yet."  I kind of like that.

Long ago someone suggested that instead of asking God to bless our plans, we would do better to figure out what God is already blessing ... and do that!  
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Hope your plans are going well today.  But if they are not, hope you can find a way to trust the all knowing Planner for as long as necessary.  It will be worth the wait. Until next time, Marsha


  1. I enjoyed this post today Martha. I particularly liked the penultimate paragraph above, that we would do better to figure out what God is already blessing! Food for thought my friend.

    1. Always glad to provide a "light snack" as food for thought. :)

  2. Another great post. I fear, though, that you may have to give me the address to the Chastened Planners Remedial Camp...

    1. Ah, Shelly, I'll just reserve a spot for you (at CPRCamp) right next to me. :)

  3. I have always found that when I plan first, then ask God to bless it, He laughs and says, "you've got to be kidding!" so maybe I need to attend camp with you next time you go, or, if you don't need to go again, please send me the address. :) And, Marsha, thanks so much for stopping by Souls_Panting. God bless you and yours this Thanksgiving season.

  4. There is another saying too - if you want to hear God laugh - tell him your plans. sandie

  5. I find good planning to be but one aspect of organization. I believe God is happy when we lead organized lives. Having said that, I also believe that we must be open to leaving margin in our lives for the spontaneous promptings of the Holy Spirit. I am a planner and list maker. I have found it easier to let some of that control go as I've grown older and as I've grown into a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Still.....I do need my lists! LOL!

  6. So you are holding this big mirror in front of my face...
    Had to own this one. :)
    Kat @ Calling Shotgun