One of my favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 16:9, "We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps." (NLT) Why do I love this Scripture? Because it reminds me that I have very little control over what happens in my life, the circumstances of my day to day experience. You might be asking, "Why does that encourage you...? Isn't it depressing to know that you are not in control?" To be honest, there are many days when I do find myself discouraged by the fact that some of my logical plans don't work out! I find myself frustrated and negative in my thoughts. But that's when Proverbs 16:9 and similar verses provide a helpful perspective. How? Because we are told that the LORD is the One who determines our steps. The LORD who is in control of our lives. And who is the LORD? He is the One revealed in Scripture to be all wise, all powerful, and all loving! By faith, I can trust that His plans are far better than mine, even when they don't match what I have desired. In my walk with God over the past 40 years there have been many, many times when what I planned and expected turned out to be very different than what actually happened. Often I felt disappointed, discouraged, and confused at the time. As God's plan unfolded, I began to see that He was teaching me things about myself, about my need to depend even more on Him, and my need to rest in His wisdom. Looking back, I am thankful for the many times God led me in ways different than what I thought would be best. Time proved that God really did know what He was doing! Imagine that!
If the past year has shown us anything, it certainly has shown that we are not in control! None of us would have predicted or asked for the challenging circumstances we have been going through in this pandemic. Many of us have had very difficult personal challenges as well. Our plans have been upended, cancelled, altered. Let's apply the truth of Proverbs 16:9 to each of these situations and allow our faith to grow stronger.
Often in my prayers at the beginning of each day I talk to the LORD and imagine my day as a blank piece of paper. I have things that I write on it in my mind, tasks I want to accomplish and goals I have set. I visualize these as written in pencil, acknowledging that the Lord is the one who will determine what actually happens in my day. He has the eraser and will write the best plan on that piece of paper. This exercise helps me to hold my plans loosely, releasing the demand I often feel in my heart to have things go my way, seeking to focus on the reality that God's way is truly best and I can find serenity in Him. May God give us the power to trust Him with our lives!