For the last couple 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. Instead, you should be like a leaf floating in the wind. You let God take you wherever He wants. 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 won’t magically appear on your door step 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.
Perspective from the Bible
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, 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.”’
To begin, we can throw Position No. 1 out the window that you don’t make any plans at all, that you don’t exert your will, your desires, or hope into any situation. Some people might think that is what this passage is saying.
It is not.
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 No. 2, as I mentioned, says that you make things happen. That it’s all up to you. You are in 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.
Make Your Plans with God
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. The person who assumes that they have control of their life is, as the Scripture says, boasting—and boasting is evil. It is 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.
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.