Plans sometimes get changed. Radically. My Sierra plans were to fish until late Friday, then to head home and miss the Friday traffic. The snow in the pic above forced a revision. Waking to 2" of snow in my campground made outdoor cooking problematic, so I threw all my wet gear in the back of the truck and headed home. Early. Not much later I walked into a Mickey D's in Lone Pine for coffee, only to meet a middle aged guy in shorts and a hoodie, "Are you a local?"
"Almost but not quite. Why?"
His wife wanted to see the redwoods, and back in high school he had gone up Hwy 395, travelled through Tioga Pass over the Sierras to Yosemite and Sequoia, so he knew how to retrace the route. He thought. But he had no map, just a nice nav system and memories. He saw the clouds embracing the peaks, and began to wonder. Could he get through, so he asked this stranger.
The two inches I encountered at 7500' were much more at Tioga's 10,000, and all the passes were closed. Several signs along the highway had said the same, but his nav said nothing. He asked me about his options, which were to go north 230 miles to Carson City, cross 130 miles west there, and then come back south another 180 miles, or to retrace his route 110 miles down to Hwy 58, travel 60 miles to Bakersfield, and then north 120 miles to his goal. Realize that as the crow flies, and which none of us can drive, he was only 35 miles from Sequoia.
He had a good plan--to see glories of the Sierras and its redwoods. He knew the basic route. He had a nav system. But no map. No checking of road conditions. Just a stranger to tell him he'd gone off track.
Now, let's link this encounter to our own spiritual growth. God wants us to plan our spiritual progress, "A man’s mind plans his way" (Proverbs 16:9a). Whether our career, personal life, or spiritual development, we should look ahead and determine where we think we'd like to end up. Let's examine our goals, possible obstacles and how to handle them, the rewards we might gain. I'm convinced God wants us to set directions, to think about goals and to wisely strategize. But we need to hold them loosely. Both my plans, and his, got changed.
That verse concludes, "...but the Lord directs his steps" (16:9b). For me, trying to fish in snow would have merely brought misery and no trout. For him, continuing north would have wasted a lot of time and miles. At least he saved needless driving.
What's the subtext here? The basic premise, with apologies to Robert Young, is that Father Knows Best. If we make no plans, our heavenly Father may have a harder time getting us to move. A ship in motion turns easier than one at rest. But if we won't flex, we assume we know better than God how we should live. God is all loving--he wants the best for us. He's also omniscient--he knows all. So, wise followers plan. But they also listen to God's hints and hammer blows, and adjust. And if we seek his wisdom a bit late, like our traveler, we can still get back on track.
Kick Starting the Application
What, if any, plans do you have for your spiritual life? How did you arrive at them? How specific did you get in crafting a strategy? In the past, have your plans always worked the best? How much did you seek God's input in them? How can you incorporate God sooner? In what ways have you seen God adjust your plans?