Working in Vain: Planning without the Planner
“O Lord our God, let Your sweet beauty rest upon us and give us favor. Come work with us, and THEN our works will ENDURE (remain; last), and give us success in all we do.”
Psalms 90:17 TPT
“Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish (set up) for us the work of our hands — establish the work of our hands!”
Psalms 90:17 HCSB
Many of us would read this verse as saying God will make our plans successful. We will use it as encouragement that if we take our plans to God, He will ensure its success. We would interpret it as saying God will make sure all of our dreams and goals work out as WE planned. But if we reread the verse, it says, “establish FOR US the work of our hands.” Establish means to set up. So this verse is asking God to provide the work of our hands. To assign to us the work we are to be working on. It isn’t merely asking God to ensure that the plans and work we create in our own will are sustained.
God isn’t an insurance policy for our plans.
We’ve done the same thing with Psalm 37:4 stating that “God will give us the desires of our heart,” BUT we conveniently skip the beginning of the verse which instructs us to take delight in the Lord. The TPT version of Psalm 37:4 says to, “make God the utmost delight and pleasure of your life.” As we delight in the Lord, His desires become our desires. Then, when we read further to verse 5, it states:
“Give God the right to DIRECT (manage, run, govern, control, coordinate) your life, and as you trust him, along the way you’ll find He pulled it off perfectly!”
Psalms 37:5 TPT
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act,”
Psalms 37:5 HCSB
Proverbs 16:3 also speaks to committing our plans to God.
“Commit your activities to the Lord, and your plans will be achieved.”
Proverbs 16:3 HCSB
“Before you do anything, put your trust totally in God and not in yourself. Then every plan you make will succeed.”
Proverbs 16:3 TPT
“Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.”
Proverbs 16:3 CEB
Commit - pledge or bind (a person or an organization) to a certain course or policy.
We are to commit our plans to God. Submit our plans to Him. Bind our plans to the course that God has for our life. Make our plans bow down to His plans.
You see, God isn’t Santa, a sugar daddy or some genie waiting around to make all of our wishes come true and make sure our dreams go as we planned. He is God. The Director of our life. We shouldn’t just seek His hand to ensure OUR plans are successful. We should seek Him for HIS plans for our life! His ways are above our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9) and His plans for our lives are far better than our own.
God is not obligated to ensure that any plans prevail beside His own.
“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”
Proverbs 19:21 NLT
“A person may have many ideas concerning God’s plan for his life, but only the designs of his purpose will succeed in the end.”
Proverbs 19:21 TPT
James 4:2 is another verse we’ve misinterpreted and/or manipulated to mean that God will or is obligated to give us whatever we ask for. However, if we read the following verse, it informs us that,
“You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.”
James 4:3 HCSB
God is not obligated to give us anything we ask, if what we ask for does not align with His will and is sought after with ill intentions.
The true key to success is seeking God first.
Matthew 6:33 tells us,
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us to,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”
How many times have we had a great idea or desired something that in itself was good, so we planned out how to get it or achieve it and then just prayed that God would bless it and give us favor? It sounds harmless, however, though it was good, we didn’t even consider if it was God. We are to seek God in ALL of our ways. That means consulting Him for His plans for our lives rather than creating our own plans and just asking Him to bless it. He is the Creator and Director of our lives.
“...do not depend on your own understanding.”
When we decide what we want and begin planning out how to obtain it without even consulting God, we the mistake of leaning on our own understanding. We leaned on our own understanding of whether it is good for us AND on how to obtain it.
“Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”
When we choose to seek after things, careers, relationships, whatever it may be, before consulting God, we set ourselves up for disappointment and sell ourselves short. We settle. Part of acknowledging God as God is seeking His will in ALL we do. The verse doesn’t say “in just some things” or “in big decisions.” It says in all we do. When we go to God first, we save time and energy by pursuing the plans He has for us - which always prevail - rather than pursuing our own plans in our own strength. When we consult God first, He directs us on which way to go (His way, which is the best way). When we take God’s path and follow His plans, we also have His strength and provision with us.
I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of all I’ve just spoken on. I’ve pursued things believing they were good, without ever consulting whether they were God’s will. Just because it’s good doesn’t mean it’s God’s will and just because it’s God’s will doesn’t mean it’s in His will for you to have it right now - or for you obtain it the way you desire to obtain it. It’s so important that we do as Proverbs 3 instructs and truly trust in God, not our understanding, and seek His will in every decision, step and desire. It all matters. Let’s make a conscious effort to acknowledge God in all of our ways from this day forward and not plan another moment of our lives without His direction and approval.
“Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.”
Psalms 139:16 HCSB
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”
Proverbs 16:9 NLT