31 December 2009
Proverbial perspectives at the year's turn
The stroke of midnight, as 12/31 turns to 1/1, is an artificial divider, but it is as good as any. Our birthdays cast the eye backwards, in retrospection. The grim realities of math and statistics may tap some of us on the shoulder with the reminder that the number of such dates before us is likely greater than that of those remaining.
But the prospect of New Year's day naturally casts the eye ahead. We make resolutions, we make plans. Some pious souls, however, shrink back from the whole notion of planning. Is it Biblical to plan and set goals?
It certainly is... if approached rightly.
In fact, God quite emphatically insists that it is our proper duty to plan. Hear Solomon:
Man's are the heart's arrangements,It is actually a verbless verse; we must supply "are" and "is" to get anything like understandable English. Both actors are thrust up front syntactically: man in line A, God in line B. It is, emphatically, the God-ordained part of man to apply his heart, his mind, to making arrangements, to setting plans in order. But with equal emphasis, B reminds us that God has the final answer. The old saying is quite apposite: "Man proposes, but God disposes."
but from Yahweh is the tongue's answer
(Proverbs 16:1, literally)
Consider one more of many proverbs along these lines:
The heart of man plans his way,Again, God intends that man use his mind to make plans, to do calculations and risk-assessments and cast up scenarios. There is no hint, here nor elsewhere, that God imposes Blackabbean slavery to mystic mumbles in non-moral areas. Adam could have eaten any fruit but one; to refuse to eat until God selected one for him would have been as sinful as eating from the prohibited tree. It is man's designed, God-ordained responsibility to make intelligent plans.
but the LORD establishes his steps
(Proverbs 16:9 ESV)
But it is God's to determine both the course and the outcome — and He discharges His responsibility quite adequately (Proverbs 16:33; 20:24; Romans 11:36; Ephesians 1:11). None need concern himself that a man doing what a man should do will prevent God from what God infallibly does. In fact, it is quite literally impossible for a man to frustrate God's eternal purpose (Proverbs 19:21; 21:30; Daniel 4:35).
So: it is right and proper for me to look to the future and make plans. Plan! Plan to do something. To fail to plan to do something is to plan to do nothing. Just do something!
However, at the same time, all our plans must be made in pencil, for we are warned:
Do not boast about tomorrow,While it is true that our plans cannot frustrate God's counsel, it is equally true that His counsel can frustrate our plans. It is lazy, insolent unbelief to refuse to plan; but it is just as foolish to plan and assume, to plan without allowing for the ever-imperative "D.V." — Deo volente, "God willing" (cf. James 3:13-17).
for you do not know what a day may bring.
So feel free to make plans and resolutions. Find a way that suits you, if not today, then some day soon.
Seek God's Biblical wisdom to plan and do, to the greater glory of Him who saved us.