For the last couple of years I have been wondering, When a person has a purpose or something they want to accomplish, is it okay with God to make plans?
There are two familiar positions related to this question.
Some people say that it’s not okay to make plans for anything; that you should be like a leaf floating in the wind. You let God take you wherever He wants to take you. You don’t exert your will, or your desires. You just are.
Others say that if anything good happens in life it’s because you make it happen. After all, God isn’t going to show up on your doorstep and offer you a new job, a new relationship, or a new life. He set the world into motion and then stepped back to watch it spin. Everything else is up to you.
I found something interesting in Scripture I never noticed before that addresses both of these positions.
James 4:13 says, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while, and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.”
We can throw position #1 that you don’t make any plans at all, that you don’t exert your will, your desires, or hope into any situation out the window. Some people might think that is what this passage is saying.
Notice it says, “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will do this or that.’ God is saying, “It’s okay to have a ‘I’d like to do this or that’ in mind. It’s okay to verbalize it and make plans for it. But, in all of your expectations, remain flexible and let Me have the final say.”
There is no person who will suffer the disappointment and despair that comes from dashed expectations if they live with a plan in one hand and surrender to God in the other.
Position #2, as I mentioned, says that you make things happen. That it’s all up to you. You are the maker of your own destiny—you are your own god. I have one word for that baloney! It’s pretty clear that, according to James, you can make your plans, but God says yes or no.
The real truth is that control is an illusion. No one really has any. We don’t even control our own breath or how long we live. People who assume they have control over their lives are, as the Scripture says, boasting—and boasting is evil. It’s opposed to the idea of being God dependent. Only God has total control—and because He loves us, we can trust Him with that control.
So, in short, if you have a goal, a hope, or a dream, pray over it and if you feel that God is giving you the thumbs up and it’s not sinful, go for it! Make your plans. Dream your dreams. But always let God have the final word.