That old saying, “If you want to hear God laugh, show Him your plans”?
Well, honey, I’m a serious planner. A calendar keeper, a list maker, a goal setter. Which means I make the Lord absolutely LOL. Here’s why.
In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9
In their hearts humans… Proverbs 16:9
This is where our plans begin. Inside our “inner man,” our “mind,” our “will,” our “heart,” as the Hebrew word leb tells us. Our plans may land in a notebook or on a computer screen where we can look at them, but they begin deep within us.
“Humans” is a fine translation of adam—yes, like Adam, the first man. It can mean one man, “a person” (GW). Or all of mankind, “people” (ERV).
Let’s keep it personal. It means “you” (GNT), beloved. It means “we” (CEB).
Though not everyone has a plan, as Lewis Carroll well knew. While in Wonderland, Alice asked the Cheshire Cat…
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“—so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat.
Indeed, we’ll all get somewhere. For most of us, we’re pretty sure that requires planning.
…plan their course… Proverbs 16:9
Some of us have a five-year plan, a ten-year plan, plus goals for each year, each month, each week, each day, each hour, each minute.
Or we may take life one day at a time, with a few scribbled notations on next week’s calendar.
Even if we don’t write things down, we often carry them in our hearts. Next week, I’m starting this. Next month, I plan to tackle that. Next year, I am getting my act together. Finally.
In Hebrew, we chashab—that is, we “devise”—our derek, our “way,” our “road” our “journey.” Not a trip across the country, but a “manner of moral action and character.”
We seek our best “path” (CEB), we sort out what we “want to do” (ERV) and how “we want to live” (MSG). We’ve got it all goin’ on. We’ve got it all figured out.
Not a thing wrong with that, as long as we understand this: we will be following a path already laid out for us by the One who knows every step we’ll take, from beginning to glorious end.
…but the Lord… Proverbs 16:9
Whole sermons have been based on this simple phrase—my favorite biblical word, but, and the proper Hebrew name of the God of Israel, Yhvh.
Whether we call him “Adonai” (CJB) or “Yahweh” (LEB) or “Jehovah” (YLT) or “the Eternal” (VOICE), we mean the One True God.
He walks before us and behind us, on our right hand and on our left.
He provides and protects, He guides and directs.
He clears the path. He makes crooked ways straight.
His beautiful promise? “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you” (Psalm 32:8).
Loving eye. Such a comforting thought. He loves us. He sees us.
The Lord doesn’t wind us up like toys or pull our strings like puppets. He teaches us, counsels us, watches over us. He creates a perfect path for each of us, then helps us walk forward without stumbling or losing our way.
This is a good God. He isn’t pushing us around. He is leading us. He is carrying us. He is loving us.
…establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9
This is more than just our feet landing on pavement. The Hebrew word yakin means to “direct one’s face toward” something, in a moral and spiritual sense. And the root word means “firm”—further assurance of God’s strength.
Sometimes we may feel as though we’re wandering in the wop-wops (best Kiwi phrase ever), but if we can stop, breathe, listen…if we can whisper the words, “Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life” (Psalm 143:8), and then wait for His leading, He will show us the way.
This is God’s plan for you. His very best plan.
God “secures” (CEB) your footing, and “decides where your steps will take you” (NIRV). He not only “determines” (HCSB) your path, He also “directs your actions” (GNT), and—here’s the best part—“God makes us able to live it” (MSG).
God doesn’t say, “Good luck with that.” His love and mercy make walking in His will possible.
In her new book, Rhythms of Grace: Discovering God’s Tempo for Your Life, author Kerri Weems writes, “I want to move to Your rhythm and at Your pace so I can finish the race You have marked out for me with joy and wholeness.”
Yes, Lord. That’s it exactly.
And so we pray His Truth right back to Him: “Direct my footsteps according to your word” (Psalm 119:133). And on those days we’re afraid we might lose our footing, we remind ourselves, “He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).
You can be sure the Lord will never fail you, because His reputation is on the line. He is a God who says what He does, and does what He says. Always.
This month and every month, I’m giving thanks for a God we can trust.
Now it’s your turn
- Share a particular line or verse from this week’s study that spoke to you.
(So generous, when you share your heart with us)
A special thank you to all who are reading and studying The Women of Christmas this holy season…
“I did this with a group of family/friends last year. Loved it!”—Nancy
“We just finished up last night…it was wonderful!” —Ashley
“Thank you for bringing the women of the Bible to life!”—DeVonne
I hope you’ll find The Women of Christmas to be a meaningful Advent devotion. You might also gather with your girlfriends and share what God is teaching you, since the book is just right for a 4-week or 8-week study. Here’s your free Leader’s Guide, with a hug tucked inside!
Your grateful sister, Liz