Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #19 Best-Laid Plans

September 2014 Your 50 Favorite Proverbs with Liz Curtis Higgs

When we unpacked Proverbs 27:1, we learned that bragging about our plans isn’t the way to go. But what about planning? Surely that isn’t a bad thing.

After all, Jesus said, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:28). Sounds like planning to me. And when David wrote, “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed” (Psalm 20:4), we’d need those plans in hand, yes?


Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

"Many are the plans..." Proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans… Proverbs 19:21

Story of my life, beloved. Endless good intentions. Lists upon lengthy lists. Not just to-do but must-do. I have a Word document with my daily schedule that runs through 2016. It is 35 pages long. I wish I was kidding.

Uh-oh. I just ran roughshod over our favorite proverb, “Do not boast about tomorrow” (Proverbs 27:1). Still, a crazy-busy schedule is nothing to brag about.

  • It says, “I can’t say no.”
  • It says, “My priorities are out of whack.”
  • It says, “I’m afraid to let go.”
  • It says, “I don’t trust anyone else to get the job done.”

Confession may be good for the soul, but it looks pretty ugly on the screen.

Whether our notebooks have pale blue lines on paper or tiny pixels on a screen, we keep “brainstorming options” (MSG), coming up with “many devices” (ASV) and creating “all kinds of plans” (EXB).

That’s the problem. They’re our plans. We forget to check with God before we check our calendars. We neglect to seek His counsel before we start looking for something to write on.

“We may make a lot of plans” (CEV), but it’s worth asking—where are all those ideas generated?

" a person’s heart,..." Proverbs 19:21

…in a person’s heart,… Proverbs 19:21

Ah. Human plans, then. Not divine. Some plans that “occupy the mind” (ISV) may reveal questionable motives or selfish desires or outcomes that aren’t remotely good for us.

We all know “the impulses of the human heart may run wild” (VOICE). When I was twenty I wrote out a bucket list of sorts. Sky diving was in my Top 10. A decade ago, I quietly dropped that one. (Jump out of a perfectly good airplane on purpose? Not this girl.)

The truth is, we can plan all we like,…

"...but..." Proverbs 19:21

…but… Proverbs 19:21

My favorite word in the Bible.

But forces us to reconsider and reminds us Who is in charge.
But halts our wayward thinking and tugs us back on track.

The Lord “knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile” (Psalm 94:11). We may act like we’re all that, like we know what’s best for us. But God knows better.

Far better.

" is the Lord’s purpose..." Proverbs 19:21

…it is the Lord’s purpose… Proverbs 19:21

Purpose tells us this is not a whim, not a passing notion. God isn’t capricious, pushing us around for His amusement. Everything He does is according to His will—His “good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

That’s why we can depend on “the counsel of Jehovah” (ASV). We can say with David, “I trust in you, Lord,” and “You are my God” (Psalm 31:14).

We can watch “Adonai’s plan” (CJB) unfold and know it’s His very best plan for us. Does it always look like a good plan when we’re in the middle of it? Well…no. Will it prove to be the best plan when we stand at the finish line? Absolutely.

We can’t picture with any certainty what our lives will be like even five minutes from now. The phone rings, a letter arrives, a text message appears, and nothing is the same. Yet the Lord is always the same—“yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

His plan is The Plan.

"...that prevails. " Proverbs 19:21

…that prevails.  Proverbs 19:21

The only time we hear the word prevail anymore is when a weather forecaster talks about prevailing winds. The cool thing is, prevail means “victorious.” Literally, the One left standing.

On hard days, when I lose my bearings and get bogged down in the details of life, this is what keeps me going: knowing God wins. His plan is the ultimate plan, the one that will “succeed” (CEB) and “stand firm” (DRA) and “endure” (GW). We can be sure His purpose “wins out in the end” (NIRV).

I love happy endings. Sometimes in movies or books, that final scene can be downright sappy. But in real life? Our forever life? Bring on the hats tossed in the air, the bells ringing, the showers of confetti, the angels singing.

When God wins, “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4). When God wins, there will only be joy.

Proverbs 19:21 Best-Laid Plans

Now it’s your turn

  • What does this promise mean to you personally: “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Psalm 33:11)?

Thanks for taking a moment to share under Post a Comment below. Your honesty warms my heart, every time.

Meanwhile, the free Printable of Proverbs 19:21 is ready to download. If you’re memorizing our 50 Proverbs, these printables can really help.

And have you checked out the Artful Words from Proverbs that I’ve pinned on Pinterest? At the moment you’ll find 33 colorful, inspirational images to share and pin.

I love autumn, so am thrilled September is finally here. Blessings on your day!

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

29 Responses to Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #19 Best-Laid Plans

  1. deanna September 3, 2014 at 6:49 am #

    I love your post Liz. I’m someone who tends to plan a lot; when things do not go according to the plan it really throws me and I do get frustrated, anxious and stressed. In those moments, it really pays to remember who’s ultimately in control and in charge – God, not me, has the last say. I think God allows our plans to be disrupted or changed to discomfit us; in that chaos/uncertainty we learn to trust Him more; and He also does exceedingly more than we can possibly imagine (or plan!). Like what you shared about wanting to go to Indonesia (loved your other post too!). God’s plan is ultimately the best way; when I look back at the times when God had His way and my plans changed as a result, I can see that He is trustworthy.

  2. April Joy September 3, 2014 at 7:15 am #

    I am so happy I found this today. I am a person who must do everything myself and can’t say no. Thank you for this printable Proverbs favorite 50 and Pintrest Fall pins. I too love Autumn.

  3. trudy cox September 3, 2014 at 7:51 am #

    Liz, this was a great reminder to me that each day I need to make a conscious effort to surrender to God, my will. I think sometimes we get in the habit, as Christians, so busy trying to do “His” work that we forget to surrender to the Holy Spirit, to allow Him to truly lead us in His plan, not ours. I think that just because I’m “working for the Lord, everything I am doing must be a His plan when in reality alot of it was my plans which brings me glory not Christ.

  4. Heather September 3, 2014 at 8:19 am #

    I really enjoyed your post! Lately, I have really felt that my life has become messy as I hit 45, had a few children grow up, marry, go on to college… The days feel full of good things but I do feel I need to be more deliberate in my choices:) I needed the reminder that I can focus on God, to hear his voice so I’ll know the next thing, rather than grabbing at the things in life I pass by that seem good:)

  5. Benny Evans September 3, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    This has been the season where MY plans were sidelined by HIS plans! Imagine my surprise! 🙂 Actually, it’s been unsettling and that’s exactly where the Father wants me … uncomfortable, unsettled and relying on Him for every moment, hour, day, week. Just when the words, “I’m going to …” I have to stop and say, “Lord willing, I might …” In today’s culture where time commitments are weighty things, I have to REALLY let go of my agendas, bias’ and pre-conceptions of God’s will and let people (especially believers) that I would love to do but it really depends on God. The looks I get are … well, no what I expect. That’s probably the greatest pressure, living this in the real world when my flesh wants to overcommit and do things MY way. Thanks, Liz for the wonderful reminder of scripture on this issue.

  6. Mary Ellen September 3, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    No matter what we think or do-nothing defeats God;s promises and His purposes. No matter how it looks-He knows the end from the beginning. His plan rules. His is the best. I may not understand today’s trials-but I do know God is in charge of all things.

    My agenda pales to His, and I bow to His Sovereign will.

  7. Bonnie September 3, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    Thank you, Liz, for your openness and being willing to bare your heart and thoughts. I think my biggest downfall is when something comes and interrupts my plans. Sometimes I get agitated when that happens and I have to stop and remember that God knew this was going to happen. This interruption was not a surprise to Him and was in His plan the whole time. I think it’s okay to plan, we just have to be willing to accept the fact that God’s plan my come in and make changes, and we have go with His flow.

  8. Janie Bishop September 3, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    I am new to your emails and really enjoy them. Certainly this one hits home. As a woman of 70 years I have always loved Proverbs 3: 5 & 6. Many a time our plans as a family have had to go to “plan B” and almost always I could look back on the other side of it and see where the good Lord had protected us with His plan.

  9. Carrie September 3, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    My life has been unhappy and out of control for years because I chose 19 years ago to marry a non Christian. Then because I did not stay in consistent attendance at church where I could be in fellowship with other believers and find my courage, strength and faith in Christ, my heart and spirit became so crushed that I became resentful, angry and bitter. This led me on an even more sinful path, trying to find something that would rebuild my broken and crushed spirit. Along this same path, my already alcohol dependent husband who does not have any faith or hope in his life because he does not know Christ was equally unhappy and wanted out and away from our life desperately. This is not to say that we didn’t build many positive and happy memories as well but over all we were both mired in depression, discouragement and hopelessness. Today marks just slightly longer than a month since my husband in his hurt over my path, walked away from me. I know that scripture says that if you are married to an unbeliever and they want to walk away from the marriage, you are to let them leave. He hasn’t yet served me with divorce papers but I know he believes it’s the only answer to both of our broken hearts. For me, my heart is once more crushed and broken before Christ in repentance and submission to His will. Everyday is filled with the struggles of fear, doubt, anxiety and an overwhelming grief. I am in prayer and His Holy Word daily seeking His will for my life but especially comfort for my grieving spirit. I’m praying daily for my husbands healing and that he will find Christ. I believe that nothing is impossible for God and my heart longs for a reconciliation and healing of my marriage but I don’t know if this is within His will for my future. I am seeking hope, comfort and encouragement through the scriptures, my fellow believers, my wonderful church and ministries like your Liz. Any encouragement and prayer that you could offer would be deeply appreciated at a time when I am asking my Heavenly Father daily how much He thinks I can bear.

    • Brenna September 3, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

      I know the struggles of living with addiction. I have lived with it most of my life. I have attended al-anon for several years and have found a new way to apply all of the things I believe in the Bible to a life where addiction of others is involved. I will be praying for your spiritual path in this difficult situation.

      • Carrie September 3, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

        Thank you! I’ve been thinking I need to attend al-anon even if my husband divorces me. It has definitely hurt my self esteem and my view of my own self worth until I feel worthless because of my husbands actions, hurtful comments and behavior. I don’t think I know up from down or when something he says or does is motivated by his need to fulfill his addiction or if I’m really worth as little as he sees me worth.

  10. jaime September 3, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    “Man plans and God laughs!” I think that expression sums up so many things. Our previous proverb about planning and this one. It doesn’t matter what we plan because we dont know if we will be here to see our plans to fruition. God gave us free will to choose but at the same time, “I know the plans i have for you”. His plans are for our good. We just need to stop and listen to Him. I need to get better at that. I need to shut up and listen to that wonderful voice instead of drowning it out with my own “rusty gate”.

  11. Martha T. September 3, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    Both verses(from Proverbs and Psalms)remind me that the Lord is the one in control and His plan is the best/right/prevailing one .

  12. Penny September 3, 2014 at 3:46 pm #


    I adore the way you put things….

    I realize that no matter what I plan if it is n’t in His plan than it won’t work out anyway.



  13. Julie Sunne September 3, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    This is one of my favorite verses, Liz. I’m so grateful, my life isn’t dependent on my plans…I’d be lost! God always wins. His plans are always best.

  14. Kim Moore September 3, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

    What a wonderful article at just the right time ,as always! Your down to earth,having a cup of coffee, style of writing is so easy to read and not let anyone be deceived,it delivers a depth of information that convicts even the most stubborn heart.
    You asked for what the promise of Psalm 33:11 means to me personally,so I am going to attempt to describe what God laid on my heart.

    Knowing that God’s purposes stand from generation to generation made me realize that nothing that my parents did or did not do to me,or for me,would have any impact on whether He would still use me to accomplish His Purpose.Even though we all tend to blame our parents for all the trouble we get into when we are young,it really is irrelevant.I look back and can remember times that I KNOW God helped me in the past,even when I was not serving Him in a “proper “way.I can see so many things he revealed over the years when I went through hard times that made me the person that I am today.That the scriptures just enlightened WHY these things happened and WHY I needed Christ And WHY no one will ever fill the empty spot in my heart except HIM.I will always be lonely without Him. But it doesn’t matter if we come from a family of drug addicts or a family of politicians or salesmen or shipbuilders or what….WE ARE OUR OWN GENERATION with God’s purpose to be fulfilled through US ! He is only a prayer away.

  15. Judy September 3, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    This message never gets old!

  16. MARTE September 4, 2014 at 12:00 am #

    Plans! Tons! Notes! 3M stickies! Lists! Etc. all over the place.

    Right now the IRS is scheduling my days, weeks, etc w/o let up!
    I am nearing the first end of a 5 year long battle! I had 20 file cabinets
    of 35+ years of business & 42+ years personal UNDONE by movers after
    a week of packing alongside. We were told they would move intact while
    we went ahead from CA to NV to sign escrow papers, open new home etc

    Not complaining informing! I’ve been pretty upbeat inspite of chaos, unreasonable
    Demands. One person, no $ to hire help, each box to be opened (my great #moving
    Plan ignored – no labels on any of boxes) plus moved 3x to NY & back for 6 month intervals with only 2 Suitcases when husband’s job changed. 200 more boxes to go
    Inside before I tackle garage floor to ceiling wall to wall. 9000 sq ft of 2 Co’s & 1 house for 30 years into 2000+ SHRED! GARBAGE! NEW FILE! WHAT IS THIS? WHY DID I KEEP THIS? HOW LONG DO YOU KEEP EMPLOYMENT RECORDS, ETC? & WHERE IS _______? I admit I “desired” Candy Spelling’s organizational skills, $$$$$ to hire helpers, storage space and creativity & plans ! What joy and awe I had watching her move from the beautiful mansion her family had lived in to a much smaller new home for herself, see her tears with the loss of her beloved
    And pray for her as she adjusted to widowhood; as she made new plans for this new stage. Mine was not as grand but I could relate to the moving and the multitude of decisions. It was a delightful colorful elegant visual vacation from my work! Her taste is exquisite! Beautiful! The closest thing to DOWNTON ABBEY here in USA current era. The BILTMORE is of a past era!

    (I thought my husband said the movers would pack, move, unpack – strike last activity -guess what my job was???). Ok, laughingly – live & learn, old dog new tricks! …:)

    How fitting, refreshing your perspective is and your ability to cut thru the tangled
    Messes our lives can become and re-direct us to God and His Word!!!

    Luv you sis and a trip with you when all is done is on my bucket list, God willing? 🙂

  17. Susan September 4, 2014 at 12:18 am #

    Trusting God in everything !!! “If it be the Lords will, we will start our project next month. That tells me , yes we have prayed, making the desires of our heart known, but we are waiting on the Lord — Trusting his guidance in our life’s –

  18. Phyllis Burroughs September 4, 2014 at 5:30 am #

    God says “I know the plans “I” have for you. He has my best in mind because he loves me more than anyone.

  19. Becky (Rebecca) Frith September 4, 2014 at 6:39 am #

    Phyllis….Not more than me!! Jesus loves me more than anyone else! Isn’t that the greatest! Since I have had more downtime, I have spent more time delving into genealogy and I can see that down through the generations how The Lord has laid His plans. Some royalty who had to change their plans, some English parliament members would had to adjust their plans, some ministers of the Lord who helped marry, and bury the folks in their widespread communities, and many common folk like me and you, who need to be reminded how much God loves them every day and that His plans are always the ones that work! That is what Liz does for this generation!

  20. Elisabeth Allen September 4, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    To me this verse means that no matter how busy my life is and how crazy the world is, well, God isn’t phased or persuaded to change His mind or the plans He has for good. This verse and study is perfect for me today. Thank you for being funny and kind and wise and such a blessing!

    • Elva Lamm September 4, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

      I do enjoy your studies — and books. Age has changed my way of life & it takes time to adjust. When I stopped trying to plan/figure it all, & asked for His help life took a turn & God took over. Better now. Keep writing.

  21. Susan Gruener September 6, 2014 at 2:51 am #

    I have great peace when I know God’s plans will stand forever, because He always has the best (perfect!) plan!
    This was a great encouraging Proverb for me today.
    Thanks Liz!

  22. Weldon September 7, 2014 at 1:06 am #

    Highly descriptive article, I liked that a lot. Will there
    be a part 2?

  23. Pam Pennington September 7, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    Can’ wait to start hearing from you monthly. Our Ladies group is doing Unveiling Mary Magdeline as Bible StudyThe first night was Awsome looking forward to each lesson. I saw you at Rupp arena several yrs. ago and have all your kids books for my Grands. Many blessings, Pam Winchester, KY.

  24. Geraldo September 8, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

    I am truly grateful to the holder of this website who has shared this enormous article
    at at this time.

  25. Kim September 9, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    I am a HUGE planner but I am comforted by this verse, knowing that it is God’s perfect plan and not my imperfect plan that will win out. I am reminded I must ask Him for guidance when I make my plans so they are a reflection of what He desires me to do. Thanks Liz, it is a pleasure as always to study God’s word with you.

  26. Cynthia September 21, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    This verse reminds me of my career preparation many years ago. I planned on becoming an airline stewardess. I was doing what I needed to be able to be qualified. God put in my path a book by Catherine Marshall “Christy.” As I was reading I knew God was calling me to be a teacher. I am retired from teaching now. I hope I have touched the lives of my students~~I know they have touched mine.