Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #10 Plan to Win

November 2014 Your 50 Favorite Proverbs | Liz Curtis Higgs

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

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

…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 19:9

…but the Lord… Proverbs 16:9

Right. Exactly.

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.

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.

God doesn’t say, “My way or the highway.”
God says, “For I know the plans I have for you” (Jeremiah 29:11).
God says, “Come, follow me” (Matthew 4:19).

"...establishes their steps." Proverbs 16:9

…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.

Your Favorite 50 Proverbs on Pinterest

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)

Your Printable of Proverbs 16:9 is easy to download, and you’ll find all our favorite verses from Proverbs on Pinterest.

The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs

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
@LizCurtisHiggs #50Proverbs
BibleGateway Blogger Grid I love being part of (in)courage! I am honored to write for P31 Ministries

33 Responses to Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #10 Plan to Win

  1. Vicki Heath November 5, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    Lizzy, how timely as I am “planning” our spa time. God knows and I am thankful for your insight.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 14, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

      So looking forward to that time away with my writing and speaking sisters. Praying as you and God plan!

  2. Novella Lieurance November 5, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    The women of Christmas is such a motivating book for me – a few pages a day gives me thoughts for the day and reassurance that God is in control. Thanks!!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 14, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

      Bless you, sister, for spending time with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna!

  3. Jaime November 5, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    So many verses speak to me on a daily basis. I just want to thank Him for the outpouring of blessings and love I’ve received recently. He works through so many people in so many ways. Thank you Lord!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 14, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

      So good, to acknowledge all the people who speak God’s love to us, Jaime!

  4. Christina Anderson November 5, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

    So good to know that God, Himself, orders our steps. I have learned never to demand anything of God but to pray for His Perfect Will instead of his Permissive Will. Has made a tremendous difference in my life.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 14, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

      Very wise, Christina. He does know best.

  5. Cheryl November 5, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    As I look back I see so many times God controlled my plans. Jobs taken, jobs left, church activities, etc. Recently God said go visit a homeless lady in the hoispital, dying of cancer. In previous months she would not listen to the gospel. That day she was ready. I will see her again.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 14, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

      Oh, Cheryl, that is THRILLING! Praising God for your obedience!

  6. Becky Frith November 5, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

    Psalm 32:8 Oh how I love “His loving eye” on me! All of my plans for this year were changed in a quick minute last Jan. when I fell and shattered my left thigh. No trip to Scotland with you, no getting newly established in a new church home. Then when it looked like I might be able to walk after 9 months, the hardware that was used to bind the bone broke and back into surgery I went. This time a trauma surgeon put 2 metal plates in my leg. Yet, His eye has been on me and I’ve experienced His grace to the point that I have been calm and not the worrier that I have been in the past. Today the doctor said to come back in 6 weeks and “I’ll let you walk!” Such sweet words, but not as great as the reminder from you good sister that the Lord’s very eye is upon me and you! Bless you girl! Looking forward to May 2016!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 14, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

      What a trial this has been for you, Becky. I’m awed to see God’s peace has settled over your heart. He’s got this, sis!

  7. Rose Kincaid November 6, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    This blog was meant for me to see today. I love how God works through his willing servants, such as you Liz. It was hard to pick just one verse but after reading all that were listed in this blog I chose two: Psalm 32:8 & Psalm 143:8. Thank you so much for sharing your love for God & others.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 14, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

      My joy to encourage you, Rose! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Julie Sunne November 6, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    Oh, Liz, I absolutely love this: “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).” Does it get anymore comforting?
    And, this should always offer assurance: “but the Lord” (Proverbs 16:9)!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 14, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

      I’m with you, Julie: that verse was a new discovery for me. “Loving eyes.” Wonderful.

  9. Mary E Taylor November 6, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    This post was great. I was reminded again that my plans are not HIS plans. Even when I believe that my plans are Godly, Biblical plans God often whispers “you are going to do what”? I had planned for years to go on medical missions as soon as I retired but that was not God’s plan and I have had 10 years of taking care of my husband and making good memories until he died 2 1/2 months ago. Now I have an opportunity to perhaps go on a medical mission next year. God’s Plans are Best even when we do not know why.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 14, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

      That last statement is so powerful, Mary: “God’s plans are best even when we don’t know why.” YES!

  10. Sherry November 6, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    Thank you Liz for several words of encouragement!
    God loves us. He sees us. (Psalm 32:8)
    God leads us; He carries us. He creates a perfect path for each of us, then helps us walk forward without stumbling or losing our way. God makes us able to live it! (MSG)
    My husband recently had a total hip replacement. The morning after surgery, he had a major complication and spent 7+ weeks in the hospital. The complication made his Parkinson’s symptoms much worse. After reading these words of encouragement, I realized that I need to pray differently for my husband. Not only asking God to help my husband to rely on God’s promises and for God’s strength… but to also help my husband (and myself) be “able to live each day” with the difficulties he faces, even if it’s balancing and taking one step at a time – make him “able to live life each day” for God’s glory, balancing and taking one step at a time… without focusing on each frustration, but focusing on a God who has a plan for us; a God who loves us, who see us, and a God who guides us. Focusing on a God who “Directs our footsteps according to His word” (Psalm 119:133) and a “God who guides us along the right paths for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). Lord help us change our focus from ourselves to you Lord and help us to be able to live each day for you!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 14, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

      Wow, Sherry. Love knowing how God has spoken to you this week!

  11. Brenda Williams November 6, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    God says, “For I know the plans I have for you” (Jeremiah 29:11). Spoke to me, especially the rest of it… plans to prosper not to harm. That is a loving God. He wants us to succeed and not to fail and not to be hurt.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 14, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

      He is defiintely a loving God, Brenda.

  12. Cathy Gross November 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

    “Show me the way I should go…”. It is sad but true, I usually plow ahead, pushing the waves out of my way. Such a dunce at times! And I get so darned tired of working so hard! Wonder why? If I ask Him which way to go, the path is easier to walk, no waist high waves to battle against. But of course I get inundated with life and problems and get side tracked again, only to repeat the same lesson. Wish I’d learn it once and get it done. But then I wouldn’t be human and wouldn’t need His grace. Thankful He loves me. Praying I soon get this one down!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 14, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

      I hear you, Cathy. It’s frustrating to us to keep learning the same things over and over, but God knows how many times we need and so He isn’t frustrated with us for a minute! Amazing.

  13. Linda H November 7, 2014 at 6:44 am #

    “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 will take from beginning to glorious end”, speaks to me to stop trying to figure it all out. I am the planner over and over. No wonder I struggle when I don’t ask Him for directions. How amazing He already knows what path I should be on!!
    The fact that, “He walks before us and behind us, on the right hand and the left hand gives me such a safe, comforting closeness to Him. He surrounds me with His love and guidance as long as I stay within those boundaries. An awesome message to remember each day, especially before we get out our calendars. Why worry…God knows the end!!

  14. Decima L Morrison November 8, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    What a tremendous verse (Proverbs 16:9)! I love the Amplified Bible, and it reads: “A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure.”

    I too am a list maker and calendar keeper, but over the years I am learning that my plans can be adjusted and delayed and even deleted as God sees fit.

    “And makes them sure” are the words that really stand out to me. It is so very assuring to me that there is nothing I can do to thwart God’s plan! No matter how bad I mess up it does not change the relationship I have with Him, His love for me, or His plans for my life. He will allow me to make my plans and trust myself to try and work them out, but He always has my back and will get things back on track when I am ready to surrender and depend on Him to live through me and express Himself through me. This is what “makes them sure” means to me. I am so thankful that He has the final say!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 14, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

      Decima, all I can say is amen and amen to your good words!

  15. Susan Gruener November 9, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    This spoke to me this week and sounds like this weeks Proverb. Psalm 37:23 “If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” I want to always walk in the ‘path’ the LORD has for me, not the path of my choosing, because I know His way is perfect!
    This was a great proverb.
    Your post never disappoints! 🙂
    Bless you!!!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 14, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

      One thing I’m realizing is, to walk in the path God has planned for me, I need to listen carefully and walk slowly!

  16. Marizanne November 13, 2014 at 5:27 am #

    Thank you! This is amazing.

    I feel God spoke in my heart to start acting on the dream in my heart. I was asking Him a few things this morning e.g. where to start, how He sees it etc. and here I read your blog and oh man, this is awesome!

    My heart knows that His path that He laid out for us is more important and more for the now as what we plan. When our plans fall in with His plans, take the lead from His plans-this is when heart meets fire.

    Now the explosion can be enjoyed in my heart and I’ll happily quote Jeremiah 29:11. I also of course looooooove Ps32:8!

    I unfortunately missed it when you were speaking here in Scotland. I really do hope that you will be here soon. Will you be visiting beautiful Inverness again? 🙂

    Thank you for your great work. You certainly are on the path prepared for you.

    Love & blessings

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 14, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

      Bless you, Marizanne. Thrilled you were with me when I spoke in Inverness. And SO glad you found my blog. HOORAY for when heart meets fire!

  17. November 15, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    Make a listing of reasons that you’re thinking of about stopping and get a sturdy willpower to avoid cigarette
    smoking. This may or may not be the transformation you would like, but you might
    never know until you try. The FDA claimed that some test samples were found to
    own differing amounts of nicotine within them, as well as some other trace chemicals not listed.