Planning (Month of Proverbs)

Custom Moleskine Planner & iPod touch
Image by Mike Rohde via Flickr

Entrust your works to the LORD,
and your plans will succeed.
He who plans a thing will be successful;
happy is he who trusts in the LORD!
(Proverbs 16:3,20)

For every disorganized person in the world, there are probably two self-help books, seminars, personal organizing systems, storage systems, and their number is constantly growing.  Our computers offer us calendars, to-do lists, and reminders of appointments. Some of our cell phones keep track of people we call, reminding us when someone might be overdue for a call.  In spite of all this, most of us are juggling so many tasks and chores that, periodically, something falls and breaks.

Proverbs often ties the idea of planning with that of trust in God.   This is not a blithe “don’t worry, God will provide approach.”  Instead, the book of Proverbs urges people to live prudently and simply, to work hard, and – as we see here – to live a life that is planned, not the random accretion of events.  Nonetheless, all of this prudent planning is somehow to be tied to trusting in God.  What does this mean?

I think the author of Proverbs is proposing a contemplative approach to planning.  Many of the organizing systems presume that you know your priorities or can figure them out; the problem is primarily one of fitting all the actions into the allotted time.  A few – such as The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – prescribe a mission-setting exercise at the start, with periodic check-ups.  But what Proverbs is proposing goes deeper.

We may not know, in the ways of this world, the trajectory of our lives – I don’t think the author of Proverbs was plotting a career path.  The events that occur are only partly within our control; our plans and choices are made within those constraints.  But the goal of the journey, that of finding out way to live every more closely within God’s will, is something that we can find within each of our moments of making choices.  This trust in the Lord provides the guidepost in all our moments of choosing and planning.

In his mind a man plans his course,
but the LORD directs his steps.
(Proverbs 16:9)

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