Planning ahead?

Do you like to know or plan what you are doing each day, week, month or even year? We can do that of course but how often have you planned something that didn’t happen? We all have ideas about what we would like to do but life has a habit of getting in the way.

The thing is plans are just that, plans. They are theoretical and aspiration. They may give us a sense of being in control and in charge. Plans can give us a sense of security but they can also bring disappointment – their resemblance to reality however can sometimes be rather tenuous!

We could get someone else to plan for us. Handing over the planning to someone else can be scary and feel disempowering but it can also be liberating. Many do let others take control of the planning, whether it be arranging the itinerary for a trip or the meals for the week ahead. Maybe that works for you but as a self-confessed planner I find it frustrating; I can feel let down and resentful towards ‘the planner’, especially if I can’t see the relevance of whatever I have been led to do.

There is someone who is good at planning, there is God. God already has a plan for our lives, a perfect one. Of course it may not seem perfect, it may seem anything but perfect. In part that’s down to us being unable to see the whole plan, to see how something fits in and is relevant to our life.

God has the benefit of being outside of time, of being able to see the beginning, middle and end of the plan He has for us. He has the big picture, we don’t, and as the Israelites found as they wandered in the desert that can be hard. They had been rescued from slavery in Egypt but found themselves longing to be back there when their envisaging of God’s plan and purpose didn’t go as expected. The long planned coming of the Messiah didn’t exactly fit with how they envisaged that plan either!

Have you ever read the end of a story before you’ve read all the pages before it? Did it diminish your enjoyment of the book? If you knew what was going to happen in your life would you still be able to enjoy it, or would you do everything you could to change it? Would you have the strength Jesus had in going through with a plan if you knew it wouldn’t be easy? Like the early disciples, sometimes it is only after the event that we get to see just why something happened.

God is like a rally co-driver, a personal navigator beside us through life. Unlike us, and James May, God is good at giving instructions. Sometimes we get a vision, an overview but God only reveals the detail in little pieces. God tells us things on a need to know basis, the next few steps. Too much information and we would be unable to focus on the here and now. Too many directions and we would crash.

As the years have passed since I became a Christian I have come to see the peace that handing over the planning to God brings. Like the rally driver, we still need to make decisions. We need to listen carefully to the instructions and choose to follow them or not. We are not passengers being driven by an auto-pilot. The buck stops with us.

I have embarked on a path that involves exploring Anglican ordination. I’ve been given the starting orders, I’ve started my engine and friends have given me an overview of what might happen. What I don’t know is where the journey will take me. Sure there’s the obvious destination but I’ve enough experience with God to know that He doesn’t always plan the obvious. The destination may simply be knowing whether I should or should not go forward for ordination.

Many have taken this journey before me but travelling with God isn’t as simple as copying someone else’s route map or tapping in a destination into a Sat-Nav. How we get to a destination is, to some extent, up to us. We can choose to go the quickest route or the scenic route – given how long God has been whispering to me about this journey I suspect I’m taking the latter.

I know I have responsibilities on my journey. To be able to discern when God is speaking and guiding me I need to spend time with Him. Reading, praying, studying and worshiping are all good, but like the rally driver I need to keep my eyes open… although I may make an exception for prayer!

Your thoughts, comments and feedback are most welcomed.

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