Seek God First, Let Plans Follow
November 23, 2021
The country singer Connie Smith sings a song that says, “I don’t trust me anymore.” Good songwriters have a pithy way of stating truth and experience. I’m taken with that line. In the song, it’s her poor judgement about men that causes her to lose trust in her judgement. But that line can be applied to many areas of life.
For example, I don’t trust me anymore when it comes to forecasting what tomorrow will bring. I can plan, prepare, and invest for what I hope and expect will happen tomorrow, but my plans and preparation do not produce an outcome with mathematical certainty.
Long before Connie Smith questioned her judgement in the song, the writer of Proverbs said, “Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s decree will prevail” (19:21). It’s actually a good thing to lose trust in our own abilities to determine the future through our planning.
Although most of us know we can’t determine the future merely by planning and strategizing, I’m not certain we are as clear about how to approach life and ministry in light of that knowledge. We may agree with Connie’s basic realization, but how do we apply that to life? Here are two primary applications.
First, while we can’t determine the future through planning, we can partly determine the ideas and information to which we expose our minds and hearts. What we become in terms of character and integrity, and how useful we are in advancing God’s agenda, is determined more by what we feed our minds upon than by our ability to plot and plan. The Bible is replete with stories of men with plans that come to naught, and plans that backfire to their own destruction. It is the “man after God’s own heart” that God chooses to bless.
A corollary to this is that Scripture never teaches that God advances his agenda through those with the most money, or the best political connections, or the largest military. God confounds the strong by working through the weak. As Paul said, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). Or, “When I don’t trust me anymore, but fully trust God, then God can bless me, for his power is perfected in my weakness.”
A second application is this: rather than trusting myself, I need to develop the ability to see where God is at work, and join Him in his work. If you are familiar with Henry Blackaby’s writings, you recognize that idea as one he often taught. In the Scriptures, and in the history of the church, spiritual advance always comes at God’s initiative, and God advances his agenda through those who join him, not through those who develop plans that they then ask God to bless.
“Where is God at work? What is he doing?” are questions every believer must continually ask. “I don’t trust me anymore” to figure out what needs to happen. But I do trust God is always working. And He’s always doing more than we know, never less. If by faith, and with courage, I will join God in his work, I won’t go far wrong.
I see this as the ongoing task of Northwest Baptist churches and the partnership ministries we enjoy together through the NWBC. Perhaps all of us have learned in the past couple of years not to trust ourselves so much. That’s a start. But we must also continually build our character through the spiritual disciplines, and before we plan our steps, we must discover where God is working and allow that to set our agenda. In this way, it will be a good day to serve the Lord where he has placed you.