Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’S purpose that prevail (Proverbs 19:21).
What was not said is, “Sometimes plans fail.” Some might say, “Most times.” There appears to be a difference between plans that are made, and plans that are laid. Perhaps made plans are arrived at casually. Serious, well-thought-out plans are laid—as a person might lay out the foundation for a new house. Historically, it appears that most plans are laid at the beginning of a calendar year. Sometimes they are called resolutions.
We know what usually happens to those resolutions. That’s why some of us are tempted to give up making them. But that would mean we have given up planning. And we know what that means. It isn’t only lack of willpower that can foul our plans. It isn’t only a sketchy plan that may come to a bad end. The problem is we cannot control what might happen to our plans—and that can be frustrating. Sometimes frightening.
A Scottish poet once directed famous words to a field mouse whose plans failed when a ploughshare cut through the nest the mouse had made. Robert Burns wrote, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley.” Those last words mean, “go to pieces.” Of course, the words weren’t meant for the mouse, but for us, his readers.
It may disturb us to think that the plans of humans and the plans of rodents are similarly apt to fail. But history has shown us, if our own experiences have not already driven the point home, that even the best of human plans, put into place with great effort and will, many times do “gang aft a-gley.”
Wise King Solomon was used by his Creator and Savior to explain this to us, lest we become either over-confident or discouraged. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart…” he tells us. And we nod in agreement. “But it is the Lord’s purpose that prevail.” And we nod in comforting appreciation.
Sad we would be if we were condemned to have all of our plans come to fulfillment. We know so little. Understand even less. What we think is best, sometimes turns out to be the worst.
Thank God, an all-wise, loving Guardian has the power and the love to override even the best of our plans. Only in the rearview mirror are we able to catch a glimpse of the potholes we missed, and the dead ends we avoided when he grabbed hold of the steering wheel of our life. Left to ourselves, our lives would be as much of a wreck as the nest of that field mouse.
Whoever first said, “I do not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.” was a wise person. Those words are worth repeating. Blessed are those who know them as fact.
The best laid plans—they are the ones that the Lord plans.
We pray: Heavenly Father, Prince of Peace, and Guardian of our bodies and souls, we thank you that you have a plan for each of us. We praise you that you allow us to share in your plans for the whole world. Keep us from making bad plans. Permit our flawed plans to fail. Bless us with your best laid plans—plans made from eternity into eternity. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida-Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military