Tag Archives: Plans

Silly Things I Could Be

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

I couldn’t help but think of my last podcast episode about “appointed time” when I read this proverb in today’s chapter.

Jesus said:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Matthew 7:7-8

I have spent most of my earthly journey asking for God to lead me, seeking God’s purposes for my life, and knocking on doors of opportunity in anticipation that they might be the entrance to a new stretch of my journey that God had ordained. Which, in turn, leads me back to asking God to lead me. It’s been such a core motivation along the way that I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to think how much it has shaped and informed the entire journey itself.

There are so many plans I can make in my creative and never-tiring Type Four imagination. You’d laugh if you heard some of the crazy thoughts and colorful ideas I can come up with and the lives I imagine leading. The monk, the vagabond backpacker, the professor, the professional actor, the stranger, the road warrior, the recluse, the secret millionaire philanthropist, the ex-patriot, the lone biker of the apocalypse, the Dude… I could go on, but you get the point. My brain can constantly make up potential roles for myself of what I imagine would be really cool for my life journey to look like.

Then, there is the asking, seeking, and knocking that spiritually keeps my feet grounded on the actual journey I’m trekking (with all of its own cool peaks and painful, dramatic, valleys) that has led me to this place at this time. And, though I never planned to be here, like the proverb I have no doubt that I am right where God has purposed for me to be even though I don’t always see it all clearly. Life could look like a lot of things. I could even chase after any number of those crazy paths (To Wendy: Don’t worry, Luv. I’m just waxing hypothetical!), but my heart’s desire is for this life to accomplish God’s purposes. When my wayward, creative hearts starts spinning tempting fantasies, my spirit keeps my feet contentedly grounded.

In the quiet this morning, I’m enjoying laughing at all of the silly plans I could conceive and spin for myself. I also find my heart feeling so grateful for my life. My realization this morning, as I mull it all over, is that I continue to receive, I continue to find, and I continue to have new doors open even as I never cease asking, seeking, and knocking.

Time to seek what this day has for me, my friend. Thank you for reading.

<— Click on Solomon for an indexed list of previous chapter-a-day posts from this series from Proverbs!

About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

You can also access my audio and video messages, as well.

tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

Plans and Purposes

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
    and he will establish your plans.

Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)

I just finished up an “over the coffee” conversation with Wendy this morning. We talked about race and culture. One of the observations we mulled over was that it’s very easy for things to be perceived as simple, binary, either-or issues when it’s just not. There are so many layers.

I find that the same can be true when reading through Proverbs. It’s really been hitting me as I journey through them this time around. The attraction of ancient sage wisdom is that they are simple. They are binary couplets. It’s wisdom or foolishness, hard work or sloth, honesty or lies, pride or humility. They are easily absorbed and understood. It’s easy to take them at face value and that typically works.

Sometimes, however, it’s not that simple. There are more layers. Context is needed. Take the verse from today’s chapter. At face value, it’s an easy concept. Commit your plans to God and He will establish them. Done. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Rub the lamp and the Genie will appear. This is the kind of verse that can easily get misunderstood:

“I prayed and committed my plans for going to Harvard to the Lord, and I got a rejection letter. God didn’t establish my plans. I guess the whole thing is a lie.”

It’s a bit of synchronicity that this came up in the chapter today because I talked a lot about this in my podcast that was published yesterday. The mysterious, divine dance between my plans and God’s purposes is complex choreography that I never perfect. Just when I think I’ve got it down the steps, Holy Spirit (who is leading the dance) suddenly goes where I didn’t expect or the music changes.

I bring my plans to the dance, but Jesus also talked about asking, seeking, and knocking. My “plans” could be coming from a place of pride, or selfishness, or vain ambition, and what God is ultimately trying to establish for me and where God is leading me is something I can’t see from my current waypoint on Life’s road. In my podcast, I shared the story of my “plans” to have a career in pastoral ministry. Actually, before that, I planned to be an astronaut, a naval aviator, a lawyer, POTUS, a private detective, a professional actor, and one day while drawing on the back of my mom’s old recipe cards, I remember planning to be a cartoonist. What was eventually established was that I would spend my career in the one place I never planned to be: the corporate world. Even though I had been given a foreshadowing of this, I couldn’t see it. I refused to see it.

So, does the fact that my “plans” didn’t come to fruition mean that today’s proverb is a lie?

Not from my perspective. It’s not that simple.

When I chose to become a follower of Christ it was the first step in a never-ending process of surrender. The “plan” that I committed to at that moment was to follow where God led, do what God called me to do, and strive to become more like Jesus each step of the way. The becoming like Jesus part starts with not living for myself, but to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love others as I love myself. If I do that, it changes my plans, which ultimately results in this journey being all about the things that God is establishing as He leads me. God’s purposes will always take precedent over my plans. When you follow Jesus, it’s part of the gig.

I look back now and am overjoyed that my career did not end up in pastoral ministry (sorry, mom), or in law, or in politics, or in space. What God established out my plans to follow where I was led turned into a job that I love and a job that has blessed me in so many amazing ways.

[The cartoonist thing might have been pretty cool, though. I’m just sayin’.]

In the quiet this morning I am thankful for being led down this path on my journey, despite the struggles, heartache, confusion, anxieties, stress, and pains I’ve encountered along the way. The reality is that those are all part of the journey no matter where we’re led or choose to go. And, who knows but that God might lead me into a completely different career at some point. After all, I’m letting Him lead the dance.

<— Click on Solomon for an indexed list of previous chapter-a-day posts from this series from Proverbs!

About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

You can also access my audio and video messages, as well.

tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

A Change of Plans

On “Remember When Wednesdays” I look back at a post from yesteryear and re-blog one for newer readers. This past week Wendy and I have been  watching Taylor apply for jobs and assisting as we may. It’s an exciting time as she ends one stretch of her journey and begins another.

I originally posted the following in August 2008. It was actually a repost from Taylor’s blog when she was at another crossroad in her life journey, and things took an unexpected turn. Come to think of it, life has taken a number of unexpected turns since then. C’est la vie.

taylor_vander_well.jpg

Dear friends, family, associates, and fans of Jesus,

There comes a time in life when high school seniors must choose the next step in life and, as many of you know, my choice was to attend the University of Iowa this fall. I was registered for classes, rooming with my best friend, and buying laundry detergent for the first time; I had everything ready to roll. After returning home from my mission trip to Romania (thank you everyone for all your prayers and support) my parents heard from my youth pastors that they had been praying, and wanted me to go to the Desperation Conference in Colorado Springs. So I headed out on the glorious twelve-hour bus drive.  It’s really quite funny how just when you think you have life planned out, God shows up and says, “Just kidding!” and messes everything up (but I guess it’s in a good way).  While at the conference, I had the chance to hear someone talk about YWAM (Youth With A Mission) Discipleship Training School, and immediately I felt God tugging at my heart to be a part of this team. After many restless nights, visiting Iowa City again, and lots of prayer, God made it very clear that this is what He wants me to do. God sometimes asks us to do things that require making uncomfortable adjustments, and for me, this is one of them. However, at the same time, I’m excited to watch my faith soar and let Him use me on the mission field once again.

Chapter-a-Day Jeremiah 29

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” Jeremiah 29:11-12 (MSG)

When I was a little child, my parents would tell me to get in the car. I didn’t know where we were going. I didn’t know the names of the streets, the layout of the city, or how to read a map. I would get in the car. Maybe I was going with dad to get a haircut. Maybe we were going to the grocery store. Maybe I’d end up at the doctor to get an immunization shot, or perhaps I’d find myself at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

“Tommy? Get in the car,” my mother would say.

“Come on, biddy buddy. It’s time to go,” my dad would beckon.

I didn’t know where I would end up, but I didn’t really question my parents. I knew I was loved. I couldn’t fathom the plans my parents had for me on that Saturday morning errand or how it fit in the longer range vision they had for my childhood or adolesence. But they had a plan and they loved me. I trusted.

To this day, I don’t always fathom where my heavenly Father is taking me. I can’t always perceive his plan, or how my momentary circumstances fit into the larger picture. But, I know he loves me, that He wants the best for me. I trust him.

“Come on, Tom. This way. It’s time.”

“Alright, daddy. I’m coming.”

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and dacotahsgirl

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 135

Blueprint [Goddoes just as he pleases— however, wherever, whenever. Psalm 135:6 (MSG)

We can do all that we can do. We can have a vision, make plans, and execute them perfectly. Still, in the end, God is going to do as He pleases. His sovereign vision sees further and broader than our eyes could ever reach. His plans take far more into account than our finite minds could ever fathom. The execution of His will stretches into details smaller and more complex than we will ever know.

We can do all that we can do. At some point, we have to step back and acknowledge that the God of the universe will do just as he pleases; and then we trust.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and ryanricketts