Performance Isn’t Worth Your Soul
I really want to move. Our home has been in need of large renovations and surprise problems, as I suppose most homeowners go through. We try to plan and get ahead, but it seems every time we try, we are set back by something new to fix. We knew our trailer would be a fixer-upper, but life rained down difficult vehicles and lower income than expected. So I want to move, and we are seriously considering renting to remove some of the unexpected nature of home-ownership. The unfortunate part is, renting is still too expensive. I feel stuck without a way to plan for a change. It drives me crazy, but I think this is right where God wants me to be.
Proverbs 19:21 Common English Bible (CEB)
21 Many plans are in a person’s mind,
but the Lord’s purpose will succeed.
The words “Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance” ring in my ear. It is a clear and religious statement that has drowned out the truth of God in my mind. The more scripture I read, the more I am convinced the need to plan, to control life’s outcomes, is an idol. Scripture is pretty clear in God’s ability to change our plans in an instant. If we hold tightly to them, we will be severely disappointed when God changes them, even when those plans are for our own good. Instead of trusting God, we are trusting our own capability.
Be a Dreamer
There are times in which we need to dream. God has placed special desires and skills in every one of us, and our dreams are hints at the future He has planned. God has the ability to create dreams out of disappointment. I have found dreams are far more productive than plans. Plans create a need for each step to be accomplished perfectly, while dreams keep the end goal in sights as the plan changes. If you hope to be in a certain career field, that field may change, but God might hold the pieces and put them in a new, fuller picture.
While in college, I expected God’s plan to look like one of the jobs listed under my major. I wanted a clear goal with tangible steps. It sounded clean and clear. Once I transferred colleges and was pregnant with my first child, I realized very quickly that my path would be different. I was angry at God’s plan because it did not line up with my own. He did not clarify with me, but asked me to trust Him instead. I did not want to.
A year and a half prior, while I was planning my wedding, I slowly started to pick up on God’s divinity in my planning. He got my attention when I found two wedding dresses for $50 each. I did not plan to find a dress among those on a short rack of the same size from an estate sale. We were not at a dress shop with professionals oohing and ahhing over how beautiful the dress was. Instead, I shared the memory with a few family members while we all cried over how perfect those dresses were. God had provided in a big way. In a way I needed to know Him and I could learn to trust Him. He knows our desires, sister-friend. And He will likely provide for them unexpectedly.
If you have had a computer or design course, you may have heard of white space. It is the space between content that helps our brains categorize and separate information. In life, it gives us space for us to think and listen. If God has not yet, He will likely place you in a season of “White Space” in which you will have a lot of time and energy to devote to learning about Him. The planner in me has tried to use this season to fill myself with hobbies to keep busy. It was not until I started using that time to seek Him that I saw any change in my life and heart.
He gives rest as part of His plan, and God put us in a position to have time for other people. Life can create crushing demands to keep us away from pouring into our relationships. It’s not until we intentionally make space for God to work in our relationships that we see God’s will for salvation. Our busyness and attempts to over-plan keep us from witnessing His goodness. People lose value and we are worse servants when we are too busy for the most important thing: relationship.
Planning, like all idols, requires more while giving less, placing us in a vicious cycle of planning until we are weary without a return on said investment. If we do not create white space for relationships, we will become more tired and less effective. That is not God’s plan for your life. You are a beloved Child of God, who has power to break chains and conquer the lies the devil slips in while you are too busy to think.
Habits Over Big Plans
Once we begin to create space, we can see God moving our hearts towards a better daily routine. I find my desires, one by one, are slowly changing to reflect scripture. I am praying more when I am anxious, instead of putting the pressure on myself to pray every morning at the same time for a certain length. Scripture is part of my life when I have a spare moment, and I desire to read it in the morning while the room is still quiet, instead of setting my alarm early enough so my children aren’t awake yet. I seek God in my every moment instead of trying to plan our relationship. I am less bothered by my children imposing on my routine in the morning. Sometimes. I’m still working on that.
God is the King of our habits. He knows how to change them, for He created us. Even if you have not read on the science of habit making and breaking or had enough psychology courses to figure out why you are so broken, God can still work in your life. Praise the Lord! We are all foolishly deceived and broken, but God’s salvation and boundless grace does its best work in broken things. If we are willing to submit to His plan and will, then we will see His work in our lives. You, too, can change your habits. Not through your best planning skills, but by complete surrender to God’s will. And that starts by making space for you to seek Him.
As I have sought the Lord, I have been challenged to focus less on my own needs and more on the needs of those around me. Truthfully, you were not made to solve all the problems in the world. It is less likely that you will become a booming voice to free the bonds of the world. Scripture often shows us women like Esther and men like Daniel who saved people by seeking God and doing the work God has enabled them to do. We all have unique skills so no one person can boast, but so God can show His divine power through how our stories are weaved together.
We must plan to serve others first. If there is anything you need to plan, it is how you will try to serve others today. Jesus prepared to wash His disciples’ feet by filling a basin with water and wrapping a towel around His waist. If we have learned to trust in God’s plan, we will find more security in His arms to give what we are asked to give. He will lead you to serve in your everyday as you draw close to Him.