“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
Are you a planner like me? I like to make a plan and stick to it. I guess it gives me a feeling of control over my life. It’s a feeling that is based on illusion, but still a feeling that I seek to experience on a daily basis. However, pursuing this goal of control over my life proves as elusive as the illusion itself, which is that me being in control of my life is actually possible.
Turns out, others share my angst. In his poem, “To A Mouse”, Robert Burns, a Scottish poet, wrote this – “The best laid plans of mice and men can still go wrong” or “often go awry.” Actually, that is the translation. The original words, written in 1785 read, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men. Gang aft a-gley.” Our words have changed some over the past two-hundred thirty-seven years it seems, but the human condition continues in its constant state. “There is nothing new under the sun”, Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, long before Burns wrote his poem or Steinbeck wrote his book entitled, “of Mice and Men”, referencing the Burns poem.
There’s a story in the New Testament about four men and a paralytic who had a plan. They executed their plan pretty well, achieving success. Still, as events unfolded, they couldn’t have planned for what they ultimately received, which was more, much more than they had desired for themselves or their friend initially. Their plan was to get their friend an audience with Jesus, because they believed that Jesus could heal their friend, freeing him from his paralysis. So they made a plan to carry their friend on his mat to the place where Jesus was. Still, “the best laid plans . . . often go awry” and that’s just what happened to the four friends and the paralytic on the mat.
When they arrived at the house where Jesus was teaching “So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door . . . Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on.” (Mark 2:2-4)
So they made a new plan because of the crowd of people. Their old plan hadn’t included roof walking and demolition – but now they had a new plan, which involved going up on a roof, cutting a hole in said roof big enough to lower their friend on the mat through it and then getting their paralyzed friend lowered through the hole they had just created, into the very presence of Jesus. This they accomplished. Their friend was now face to face with Jesus. But what happened next wasn’t what they expected to happen because it wasn’t a part of their plan for their friend.
Their plan was that their friend would be healed and walk again. But Jesus had other plans. The first words out of Jesus’s mouth were, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” What? Couldn’t Jesus see the condition of their friend and understand he needed a physical healing, allowing him to walk again? What good were these words of Jesus? There must have been stunned silence in that crowded room following Jesus’s words to the paralytic. Those present held their breath, waiting to see what would happen next.
Now among those present were Pharisees and teachers of the law. Their response to what Jesus said? “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” This is what they were thinking and Jesus knew it. Jesus responded saying,
“Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ” Next we read –
“He (Jesus) said to the paralytic, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’ ” (Mark 2:7-12)
Wow! Jesus is revealed for who He is – God’s Son, the promised Messiah, with the power and authority to forgive sins, the people present end up praising God, the paralytic has his sins forgiven AND he also receives the physical healing he had long desired, which is why his friends brought him to Jesus in the first place. The paralytic received so much more from Jesus than he asked for that day. He wanted physical healing. He was given spiritual healing as well. The paralytic came for something temporal and received something eternal, not instead, but in addition! – forgiveness of his sins, a pardon from God, granting him eternal life! He asked so little of God when God desired to give him so much more than he ever thought possible.
I guess I do that too. Like the paralytic, I believe God for too little, not too much. “I have not because I ask not.” I forget that God – “is able to do immeasurably more than all we (I) ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us (me).” (Ephesians 3:20)
I always have a plan, but I need to remember that God always has a better plan for me. I have a plan – BUT GOD!
” ‘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.’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Hope, what a priceless gift and how hard to come by on my own and in this troubled world. Hope sustains in the darkest of times, hope makes all things bearable because it is the promise of brighter, better times to come. That’s the “future” spoken of here in Jeremiah, the future that God wants to give me – eternity with Him.
Yes, I have a plan – BUT GOD has a better one! I just need to –
“Trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding; in all my ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct my paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I may have a plan – BUT GOD – His ways will win out.
“Many are the plans in a man’s (my) heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)
I’m glad those words from Proverbs are true. I’m grateful that it’s not my plans, BUT GOD’S purposes that prevail. My Heavenly Father saves me from my own plans time after time.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) Better I follow God’s ways than my plans.
“Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies – make straight Your way before me.” (Psalm 5:8)
sincerely, Grace Day