“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines His steps.” Proverbs 16:9.
Have you ever had your plans fail? Or set up this elaborate plan for your life only to have it not work out as you intended?
I am a planner. Regardless of what the occasion is, I like to plan out my days and most of my weekends. Down to when I schedule in cleaning, which you can read a blog post about here. Although, I am learning to cherish the weekends that I don’t have anything to do.
However, no matter how well I plan, things don’t usually go according to those plans. I am going to share a story about how God has taught me that I can plan all I want but the outcome may never be to my full satisfaction, and how He continues to teach me about dependence on Him.
About six years ago, I had this whole plan in my head that I was going to get into a graduate program and become a Registered Dietician. My plan was highly sensible in my mind as I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology and have a passion for nutrition and helping others.
I was praying for God to let my plans go through, something like this:
“Please God, I think this is your will but really this is what I want. So if you could make it happen that would be great. Thanks.”
I don’t know about you, but for me it can be so easy to get a plan in my head and let myself fall into thinking it must be what God has for me without even praying about it or trying to discern if that’s what He actually wants for me.
“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:3.
As usual, my own plans for life didn’t seem to pan out the way I wanted them to. I had fallen away from attending church, chasing after my own selfish desires, and then on top of it was denied from all the schools that I had applied to. I lost all hope.
God’s Plan is Always Better
One night, prompted by the Holy Spirit, I broke down and finally asked God what He wanted to do with my life and how He wanted to use me for His kingdom. Well be careful what you ask for….
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15.
Within the next two days, I received a call from a friend of my parents, who I had gone on a missions trip to Malawi, Africa with six months prior. He asked to meet with me; it was a divine intervention.
During that meeting, I was asked if I wanted to go to Malawi, Africa and make peanut butter for a year. Without a second thought, I said yes, even though I was told to go home and sleep on it. God had answered my prayer and His plan was greater than I could have even imagined. He led me on a journey in which He brought me back into His Church, allowed me to participate in His mission serving the lost and destitute, and developed within me a passion for service and missions which led me to a career working with non-profit organizations.
God Made Us to Depend on Him
When we depend on God it leads to contentment and confidence in knowing that we are exactly where we need to be, doing what we need to do, and obeying His will. That doesn’t mean it will always be easy; I certainly faced trials and loneliness in Africa. But God is faithful and as we become more dependent on Him we become more transformed into the image of Christ.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways and He will guide you on the right paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6.
God is present in all circumstances. Think about Him in all of your ways and invite him into your daily activities and decisions. He wants you to depend on Him not just in the major life decisions, but even in the minute normal moments of our day.
God is the one who leads the way, and determines our steps. The outcome of His guidance was way more fruitful than the decisions I was unsuccessfully making on my own.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him, produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me….if your words remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.” John 15:5, 7-8.
The work He calls us to do isn’t about what we can accomplish on our own. It is about glorifying God by serving His children, loving our neighbors, and sharing the Good News of the Gospel. What’s more fulfilling than that?
Trusting in God and depending on Him can be scary because it can lead to things we did not intend or plan for ourselves. Obeying Him can send you to the far reaches of the earth, away from family and friends and the comforts of home (in my case, Africa). However, the most rewarding thing you can do is to completely surrender, trusting and depending on God. So open your heart to trust in God and let him direct your steps.