When I was a young man, I was pretty short-sighted. But as time passes, I think and plan more in terms of years than in days or months. And that can change everything.
Instead of, “How can we plan for a family mission trip this spring?” (with a high risk of frustration because of the short notice), I now ask questions like, “How can our family plan a mission trip for Q1 of 2021?” This longer runway for planning gives us more time, more margin for unanticipated changes, leaves room for better communication, and gives God more time to prepare our hearts.
Though immediate action and spontaneity have their place, after years of experiences managing relationships, expectations and resources, I have come to know that initiatives are more likely to succeed when they have been planned and prepared well.
The surprising plan for Sarah
Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.
– Genesis 18:14
As a very mature woman, Sarah couldn’t fathom getting pregnant, much less raising a child. But that was exactly the Lord’s plan for her. Fortunately, he gave her a 12-month timeframe to prepare herself for the emotional and physical pressures to come. God was not finished with Sarah and Abraham in their old age. In many ways, they were just getting started. Talk about needing to stay young! God would confirm his covenant to Abraham and his family through the birth of Isaac.
“But my covenant will be confirmed with Isaac, who will be born to you and Sarah about this time next year”
– Genesis 17:21
What’s ahead for you?
What is the Lord’s plan for you over the next 12 months? Is he leading you to accomplish something big – something that may require significant prayer and preparation? Start now with step one, and do not be overwhelmed by step fourteen. Remodeling your home? Start by requesting several quotes on the estimated cost. Itching to learn a new skill or pursue a degree? Start the application process.
Ready for a career change? Start networking. Hope to exercise and eat right? Show up at the gym, and consider hiring a trainer. Hungering for consistent Bible reading? Find a One-Year Bible plan, and read each day with another person or two. Prayerfully plan ahead and the Lord will reward your wise preparations.
Prayerfully plan ahead and the Lord will reward your wise preparations.
As you plan, submit to the Holy Spirit to draw out of your heart his best purpose and direction. Ask for the humility to be able to change course or even cancel a project if the timing is not right, so you’ll be positioned for the Lord’s best.
Like Sarah, don’t be surprised if God asks you to do something this upcoming year that will be impossible without divine intervention. Obey willingly and trust Christ to carry out his will for your life. Do your part: pray, plan, persevere. God will faithfully do his part: answer prayer, give wisdom, and energize. A dull pencil from extensive planning is better than a sharp mind that procrastinates ….
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
– Proverbs 16:9
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to be patient and plan with time to spare for interruptions from your Holy Spirit.
Related Readings: Jeremiah 29:11; Proverbs 15:22; Ephesians 1:11; James 4:15-16