‘If you want to give God a laugh, tell him your long-term plans’
I can’t remember where I heard that first, and it’s a bit cynical, but it’s got a bit of truth in it which goes with some of what’s in this chapter of Proverbs. It’s not by any means that it’s unwise to make plans and work towards them. Elsewhere, that kind of living is commended, and it’s certainly true that a life working towards planned aims is generally a happier and more fulfilled one.
Where the writer of Proverbs 16 is cautious, though, is in reminding us that in the end, however good our plans may be, God may have other ideas, and in the end his way will be best for us.
The human mind plans the way, but the LORD directs the steps. (16:9)
God’s way is based on his knowledge of us…
All one’s ways my be pure in one’s own eyes, but hte LORD weighs the spirit. (16:2)
…and of the situation.
Sometimes there is a way that seems to be right, but in the end it is the way to death. (16:25)
Sometimes we can be so committed to our plans – not just of where we’re going but of how and when we intend to get there – that we miss God’s leading along the way. God’s chosen route may seem to wander at times, and take us in directions we haven’t chosen to go. But life is more of a pilgrimage than a commute, and the journey we take to get to our destination shapes who God wants us to be by the time we get there.
So by all means tell God your plans. Even better, consult him as you’re making them. But write them in pencil, not in indelible ink. They may have to change along the way.