Who Is the Planner?
by Sherry Bitler
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 ESV
Each day after breakfast, my husband and I try to start our day together by reading Scripture and a page from one of our favorite devotional books. We pull out our prayer list from between the pages; children, grandchildren, extended family, church family, community group families, friends with current challenges, neighbors. We ask Him for things. We thank Him for things. We praise Him for blessings we currently enjoy. We acknowledge His faithfulness. We admit our need for His presence in our lives. We marvel at His love for us and the many ways we experience it.
We are successful most days, but not all days. Sometimes an immediate circumstance overshadows our plan. However, I have learned not to view those missed days with guilt. Even in this mundane moment, the Lord reminds me of grace. As a child I was raised on the doctrine of law. Devotions were part of the morning routine, and if I missed them, I felt that I let the Lord down. As an adult, I better understand the doctrine of grace as we consider our priorities. I’m grateful for the mornings when our plan to start the day with reading Scriptures happens and I am also grateful for those mornings when the Lord has a different plan, and starts our day pointing us in another direction.
Sundays, we plan to gather with our church family and listen to our pastor share what God has taught him through his study. Our pastor starts our time of worship on Sundays, and our associate pastor often shares announcements and then prays. One Sunday, recently, not only was our pastor sick, but our associate pastor as well. What do you do when well thought out plans change, with little time to formulate an alternative plan? A last minute fill-in headed for the microphone, I am sure he was feeling a little insecure, but he was willing to help. God filled his heart with a message, and God used this man’s words to fill my soul with the spiritual encouragement I needed for that day. Plans change, but God can send surprise treasures in those changes.
One of my plans has always been that when my mother could no longer take care of herself, I would take care of her needs. I was certain that meant at some point in time, we would bring her to live with us in our home. It was that time! We made the 9-hour trip to pick her up; along with her things, and even her car which she could no longer drive. We rearranged our home to provide space for her to enjoy the simple things that she could still manage. After two months, it became very clear that this had been my plan, but not God’s plan. My mom was very unhappy being so far away from where she had lived for the last 25 years, and it became evident that her needs were beyond my resources.
After working through a good bit of unpleasantness, I submitted to her desire to return home and trusted God had a plan, even if it wasn’t clear to me what that plan would look like.
We may be willing to accept that God is sovereign over the big circumstances in our lives, but struggle to see He is also sovereign over the little things in our everyday circumstances. Our finite intelligence has a hard time accepting that the Most Holy of Holies oversees “small” things like, who is going to preach on any given Sunday, how we are going to serve each other, or if we are going to be distracted from devotions. Pausing to take a moment to absorb the all-inclusiveness of God’s plan for every detail of my daily life, may feel overwhelming, but it is in those moments when I see how I am valued by God, that I catch my breath in awe.
The reality is, as I make my plans, I can rest in knowing that if things do change, it is because those changes are part of God’s plans for my day. It is His purpose that will stand. When I am living submitted to His plan for my day, I am more open and available to the needs that arise and to the people around me.
Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
Proverbs 19:21 ESV
The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 ESV
I am a visual learner and I can be easily distracted by the circumstances. To help myself, I post notes, like:
GOD’S GOT THIS
These three little words remind me, especially in this challenging season of life, that He knows, He understands, He has a plan, and He is right here with me in this very moment. His plan is always perfect and is always purposeful. Try posting notes that will help you!
Sherry Bitler is the founder of a local traditional Christian School, a home school cooperative school, and a summer program for children at a popular Christian Conference Center. She is spiritual mother to hundreds of young women. Challenged by her daughter-in-law, she began writing a blog, The Grateful Grammie, several years ago as part of her legacy to her grandchildren. She loves time with her husband of 47 years, their four children, their spouses, and twelve grandchildren. Sherry shares more about living with Multiple Sclerosis in this interview: When MS is Your Constant Companion.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to the interview “Chronic Illness: Stories From Young Adults" so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
Instead of enjoying the freedom that comes with young adulthood, there is a whole population that struggles to reconcile their physical limitations with everyday life. Three young adults share their own stories of dealing with delayed life plans, limited social lives, and the search for friends who “get” their physical disabilities. Tim, Stephanie and Stephen give us a glimpse into the ongoing battles to find purpose and joy as they live each day with chronic illnesses.
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Contact Sharon with comments or questions at email@example.com.