The Bible admonishes us many times to stop worrying about the little details of life. My favorite is the blunt statement made by Jesus in Luke 12:25-26: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” Good point. If I can’t control one aspect of my life, why worry about any of it?
Ah…therein lies the dilemma.
I am by nature a planner, preparer, and preventer. I keep a mental list of things I want to do in the coming weeks and months and years. Of course I have to be flexible and adapt it to events as they actually transpire, but I still know that I want to complete the book I’m currently researching, improve my garden, improve my health, retire, travel, photograph nature, learn to paint, etc. I keep a little money in savings and some food in the pantry and never let my gas tank fall below a quarter of a tank. I take my vitamins, get regular checkups and try to eat wisely. We all know I’m a little lacking in the exercise department, but I make an effort to walk a bit. So my life is basically structured and secure and somewhat predictable…except when it is NOT.
We have all experienced the unexpected in our lives because let’s face it …most of life’s events are not really within our control, no matter how much we may think to the contrary. We react and respond and adapt and adjust to the weather, to how we feel, to events, and to the people we encounter. How many times a day do you think “Well that was strange.” or “I didn’t think she would say that!” or “Look at that!” or “Why is that hurting now?” or “People are so stupid!” I had to throw in that last one because of something a mom did at Walmart yesterday.
I don’t think Jesus was saying that we shouldn’t have a plan or try to organize our lives in some way. But there is a fine line between planning, hoping, and even praying for something to happen and being worried, fearful, and apprehensive about it. Planning and hoping tend to be energizing and give us the motivation to do something, while worry and fear can be so paralyzing that we do nothing at all for fear of doing the wrong thing.
Also, the Bible tells us over and over again that man may make plans, but they can never oppose the plans the Lord has made for us. “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.” Proverbs 21:30. And we can’t hide our plans from the Lord or ask his blessings on plans that contradict His teachings. We sometimes think we are “getting by”, but God eventually shows us the error of our ways. Good or bad, if our plans aren’t in line with those of God, I believe we either change them or we suffer the consequences. Sometimes those consequences are discipline and even punishment, but sometimes the consequences are just missing out on wonderful opportunities for growth and change and joy. There are a dozen elements of my life that have changed in just the past ten years that were not part of my plans, yet I can’t imagine being happy now without them.
I guess my point this morning is that we all need to feel somewhat in control of our lives, while accepting that complete control is not ours to claim. We need to plan ahead so we can feel safe and secure and happy, but we also need to be willing to take life one day at a time and see what the Lord has in store for us.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”