Today’s scripture: Proverbs 19:21-29 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) and James 4:13-17 (The Message) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Steve Adams):

The human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.

Plans! They’re a good thing, aren’t they? As the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!” Good plans make me feel secure, because then I know I’m giving it my best shot to work toward a successful result. But a part of life — especially the life of a disciple — is dashed, revised, and altered plans. Something happens to derail (or at least jeopardize) the the plan, so we’re forced to come up with a new one.

Here’s a simple example: it was a Monday night. After getting home from work and cooking dinner, I was tired and looking forward to a night of relaxation and completing this devotional which was due the next day. Just before dinner, though, my spouse Dan told me he’d received a call from a good friend of ours who’s a widow. She asked if we would come over to her house in order to scan her large back yard for dead animals, because she thought her dogs had been rolling on something that had a foul smell. The back of my mind was sending me the message, “I’m tired, and I’m afraid to deal with a dead, possibly rabid animal!” You see, I sometimes have a fear of “ordinary, every day” germs, but a stinky, dead animal — now that’s a tough one! Yet, God’s purpose for me was to help this lady, and my own plans could wait. So, we went over and searched the yard, finding no animal, but instead pulling up poison ivy and burr bushes.

I know those of you who are parents have many incidents like this. Your child is sick, or in danger, or needs some extra time spent with them, so your plans are shelved. I have little doubt God was trying to re-teach me the service principle, that I occasionally need to sacrifice my “comfort time” in order to help somebody else.

When I think about his verse, it seems that the moral is to give our utmost to come up with plans that are consistent with the purpose of God. Otherwise, we’re destined to live out some variation of the Jurassic Park story — no matter how much genius we pour into the plan, it will eventually unravel in ways we could never imagine if it’s not in line with God’s purpose. And, to put it bluntly, that would waste a lot of God’s time, as well as ours.

Think of getting a glimpse of all the plans each person in the world has at this moment! The sheer number would be mind-boggling. How many would miss the mark because they’re out of line with the nature and will of God? How many are doomed because of greed? How many are well-intentioned but destined to fail because of faulty strategizing? Which ones are misguided? Which ones are downright evil? And, which ones are gems, part of God’s plan to spread love and justice throughout the world? It’s only these last ones that will be established in eternity.

So what’s the bottom line? Wisdom is elusive, so we need to give top priority to tapping into it. And since many of our plans which we’ve painstakingly crafted can be dashed in a moment of time, we need to have an attitude of humility toward them. As for John Hammond, the man who came up with Jurassic Park, it seems the above verses from James are appropriate. In his pointed style, James seems to be saying, “Be humble! Everyday is a gift from God! You may not even be here tomorrow to execute those highfalutin’ plans of yours! So what are you bragging about, anyway?”

Thought for the day: God, help me be ready for the next time you blow away those (seemingly) great plans of mine with something superior and perfect — your purpose!

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.

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