There is an old saying - ‘if you want to make God laugh - tell him your plans’. God must be having a great old laugh at the moment! I cannot remember a time when humankind have made so many plans which have come to nothing. A fine example would be the continually changing rules and laws surrounding the Covid pandemic. This ever-changing advice and legislation is enough to make you cry far less laugh! However, it is not just our ‘lords and masters’ who plan things in vain. Let’s be honest. We all do it. How often have you made some grand plan only to see it disintegrate into dust owing to circumstances far beyond your control?
This is not a new problem. Thomas a Kempis in his devotional work, ‘Of the imitation of Christ’, said ‘For man proposes, but God disposes; neither is the way of man in his own hands’. Now I find that thought rather liberating. In the midst of the mess and muddle of my own decision making and planning God is in control!
The Scottish National Bard, Robert Burns, reflected the same sentiment in his poem ‘To a Mouse’ - ‘The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley’. In standard English this means - ‘No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it.’. Very true!
When I reflect on my own life experience I realise that I like to plan carefully but the outcomes are frequently very different to my expectations. When I talk with others their experience is just the same. The message? Plan carefully but make God party to your thinking as it is ‘God who disposes’.
Finally a word from some ancient wisdom literature - Proverbs 16:9 -
A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.
So our plans might make God laugh but he directs our way.
And that, I believe, is very reassuring.