Christian Living

Spiritual Life

When Our Plans Backfire

The LORD turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?” Judges 6:14 (NIV)

Most people have a dream or goal in life. In his 1954 book, Motivation and Personality, Abraham Maslow points to self-actualization as the highest need in the hierarchy of human needs. Self-actualization demands effort. People make plans or set goals to achieve it. Consequently, self-improvement, motivation, peak performance, etc. has become a lucrative industry as there is no shortage of people in need of such services.

It is said that the cemetery is the richest place on earth because there in the grave are countless potentials, ideas or dreams that did not see the light of day as they perished and were buried together with the people who carried them.

Does SMART, SWOT Analysis, or Strategic Planning ring a bell? Almost all literature on realizing goals point in one direction: set the goal; consider the needed resources; divide it into mini goals/small steps; proceed from one step to the other and you end up realizing the main goal.

But there are those times when, with the best of intentions and efforts, you set a goal, divide it into mini goals, start with a step, and realize you are not making any headway. You may even be retrogressing, despite all the hard work. That is when you wonder if God did not have enough time to read any of those articles or has not heard of these strategies!

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9.

Often we look at the natural and are disappointed because we cannot understand God's divine perspective. When we have goals, dreams, or methods that will end up destroying us, God steps in to destroy such plans. Most of the time, it makes no sense to us; it even looks unfair and unjust.  But His infinite ways are beyond our finite ways, and if we do not get it, we might end up employing desperate measures trying to help God (like Sarah did in suggesting Abraham sleep with her maid so they could have an heir - which eventually backfired.)

Gideon had to learn this fact when God asked him to reduce the size of his military from 22,000 to only 300 men to fight the mighty Midianite army. Given the size of the task ahead and considering the military technology at that time, this was against common sense to say the least; neither was it smart or strategic planning either! It rather looks suicidal or more of kamikaze tactics of World War II.  

However, in the end, this alternative route secured resounding success. We need to appreciate that our meticulous planning, credentials, education, technology, networks, etc. are good and worthwhile. However, it is the grace and mercy of God that ultimately guarantees real success and fulfilment in our endeavours and life.

Sometimes we may not understand God’s methods, but we need not worry when we do not see much progress or try to measure our output by manmade standards. What we have to do is to ensure we are doing what He wants us to do and trust exclusively in his timing. Having God by your side is a recipe for success as he makes everything beautiful in His time. So give God first place in your life and He will take you places. Amen.

Copyright 2016 Felix Kwabena Donkor. Used by permission.

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