The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.Proverbs 16:9(NASB)
There are many lessons that God's people have to learn and often it takes a lifetime to pass the different tests the Lord sets for each one of us. The book of Proverbs is filled with examples of both godly living, (behaviour we should seek to emulate), and unwise actions, (things we should eschew and avoid.)
There are many biblical principles to follow in this book of instructions, and many wise practices to develop. As we journey through life we should earnestly seek to develop these behaviours and attitudes, as we grow in grace and in a knowledge of the Lord Jesus. One such concept to embrace with understanding is, "The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps." We may make future plans and purpose in our heart how to achieve our desired goals, but God is the one who directs our path. He is the One Who establishes the steps we take.
Making plans for the future is wise and prudent. The Lord designed us with minds to think. He gave us a free-will to make wise choices in life. The Bible advises virtuous living and prudent planning for we read, "those who plan good find loyalty and faithfulness" and, "plans are made by seeking wise and godly advice from others."
Paul was a man who often spoke of his plans to visit certain Churches and wrote of goals he wanted to achieve, but Scripture shows that although Paul made many good travel plans and purposed in his heart to visit certain Churches, not all were accomplished, for the Lord was the one that directed his path.
On one occasion we read that Paul's plans were rearranged by the Holy Spirit of God when he received a call from the Lord to forgo his own pre-developed arrangements, and go instead to Macedonia. Paul's plans were worthy and worthwhile, but God had ordained that he should change them and go and share the gospel with the people elsewhere.
Often the plans we make are deficient and nearsighted, but God in His grace often brings us to our desired destination in a very different way. Sometimes the goals we set are too limited or too limiting, but God will bring us to a place of fulfilment that we could not have thought possible.
Sometimes the plans we make may be good and honourable, but God knows the end from the beginning and may take us to a different destination with a different expected outcome. But if we are living by faith and trusting His guidance, He will bring us to the place that He knows is best - not only in this world but in the eternal ages to come.
If we are prepared to die to self, live for Him and cry, "not my will but Yours be done", we may be sure that whatever plans we make, the Lord will direct our steps and guide us in the best way to go. James pointed out the folly of setting our future plans in stone by making arrogant claims about what we will do in the future - rather we should express our future plans by saying, "If the Lord wills, we shall do this or that."
However carefully we consider our plans, we have a very limited view of the future. We do not know what will happen in the coming weeks and months. Indeed, we have no control over any of our tomorrows. But our times are in His hands, and because God can see the end from the beginning, we should be ready to bathe every plan we make in prayer and place each desire of our heart into His safe-keeping.
God not only knows the future, but holds the future in His hands. How wise, therefore, to use our rational thought and God-given free-will to plan wisely, to the best of our ability, while recognising that while God may permit our plan to move forward, He may overrule it or even advance it further. But what a comfort to know that while we have the freedom to make our plans, the Lord will direct our feet into the way that is best for us.
May we embrace this statement of fact as a promise of God to each one of us and rejoice that, "the mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps."
Dear Lord and Father, thank You, that I have the freedom to make future plans and yet have the wonderful assurance that You are the One Who directs my steps. Thank You, that I have been given the free-will to make choices in life, and a sound mind with which to think and consider different options. I pray that You would give me the wisdom to make the right choices in life, but thank You, Father, that I am not alone, because You guide me along the best way and direct my steps in the way I should go. Give me wisdom and discernment to make the best life-choices and an ear that is open to Your leading and guidance. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.