How can I plan my life and trust God’s will?

By Michael Agnew
By Zabdi Piña
By Kristie Davis
By AJ Jerkins
By John Hames
By Makenzie Romero
By Caroline Khameneh
By Victoria Renken
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Paul Leadabrand
By Dawn Johnson
By DJ Newman
By Mary Weyand
By Rob Nickell
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Nila Odom
By Sherene Joseph Rajadurai
By Kristi Sheffy
By Sharon Arrington
By Sarah Crawford
By Betsy Paul
By Angel Piña
By Elizabeth Piña
By Justus George
By Lori Kuykendall
By Chris Kuykendall
By Matt Holland
By Courtney Grimes
By Jessie Yearwood
By Jeff Black
By Brian Severski
By Brian Arrington
By Sandhya Curran
By Will Meier
By Clint Calhoun
By Jen Mayes
By Alf Laukoter
By Neil Wiersum
By Jim Henry
By Erick Rodriguez
By Jenn Wright
By Kevin Harwood
By Nandi Roszhart
By Leah Vanhorn
By Janett Miller
By Isaac Harris
By Charlyn Valencia
By Chad Golden
By Jonathan Cortina
By Kuruvilla (K.O.) Oommen
By John Dyer
By Abe Paul
By Lauren Geppert
By Jennifer Durrett
By Penny Jones
By Jill Asibelua
By Jared Barnett
By Paul Martin
By Norm Headlam
By Kristi Herring
By Albán Snider
By Sissy Mathew
By Shannon Pugh
By Melanie Mechsner
By Kyla Mikusek
By Michelle Garza
By Armando Galvan
By Jeremiah Betron
By Camille Holland
By Rod Myers
By Crystal Elwell
By Darcy Peterson
By Jason Elwell
By Amy Aupperlee
By Tiffany Stein
By Barry Jones
By Bryan Eck
By Tricia Kinsman
By Jason Stein
By Nat Pugh
By Sarah Kemper
By Dana Myers
By Craig Pierce
By Jim Woodward
By Andy McQuitty
By Pete Hyndman
By Kevin Dial
By Tarrin Henry
By RozeLee Rugh
By Beverly Hogan
By Kendra Cordero
By Lisa Gajewski
By Bonnie Goree
By Young-Sam Won
By Chris Beach
By Tom Rugh
By Nick Vuicich
By Andy Franks
By Lead Team
By Jason Roszhart
By Harvard Medical School
By Justin K. Hughes, MA, LPC
By Sherene Joseph
By Earl Davidson
By Rebecca Perry
By Joe Padilla
By Christian Melendez
By Bruce Riley
By Isaac Harris
By Amy Leadabrand
By Ben Haile
By Shaun Robinson
By Natalie Franks
By Cathy Barnett
By Ryan Sanders
By Casey Pruet, The Grace Alliance
By Sharon Arrington
By Lauren Chapin
By Betsy Paul
By Alberto Negron
By Kelly Jarrell
By Michelle Mayes
By Jenn Wright
By Jill Jackson
By Terri Moore
By Robyn Wise
By Katherine Holloway
By Richard Ray
By Kurtlery Knight
By Bruce Hebel
By Neil Tomba
By Tony Bridwell
By Grayson McGovern
By Luke Donohoo
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Mike Moore
By Wade Raper
By Mike Gwartney
By Jo Saxton
By Dieula Previlon
By Jonathan Cude
By Ken Lawrence
By Jay Hohfeler
By Barb Haesecke
By Lindsay Casillas
By JoAnn Hummel
By Shawn Small
By Alice McQuitty
By Jonathan Murphy
By Peggy Norton
By Brent McKinney
By Irving Bible Church
By Irving Bible Church
By Ashley Tieperman
By Betsy Nichols
By Trey Grant
By Debbie Lucien
By Sue Edwards
By Suzie Robinson
By Paul Smith
In Got Questions
Back to Blog

I’m like a scooter driver in downtown Hanoi: I like predictable conditions.

If you visit a city like Hanoi, where scooters typically flood down each and every street—seemingly all the time, seemingly unregulated—someone will tell you the simple key to crossing the street as pedestrian: predictability.

If you’re trying to cross an intersection on foot, you can’t wait for a stop light and a “WALK” sign—no such help is coming. Instead, what you have to do is stand at the curb, look at the oncoming wave of riders, and start walking. Don’t worry, the scooter drivers will see you and adjust to you (most of the time?) as long as you keep your end of the bargain: walk in a straight line at a steady pace. In other words, be predictable. If you’re predictable, they can adapt and keep zipping by without stopping or even slowing, and everyone gets where he or she needs to. The key is predictable conditions.

I like predictable conditions.

I was thinking recently about how unforeseen circumstances (like a shelter-in-place order during a global pandemic) can teach us new things about ourselves, our neighbors, God, and the world we live in. Then I remembered circumstances like these can also teach or re-teach us very old things.

One of these very old things that has been most impressed on me the last few weeks has been the fragility of the plans we make. Our plans are—and have always been—subject to change without notice. Again, this has always been true. I just tend to forget it during long stretches of what feels like enduring calm and unchecked agency. I can plot my course. I can sketch out the steps—first here, then there, and then I’ll arrive. I can see it through.

That approach works great until it doesn’t. Until disaster strikes or a circuit blows or a levee breaks or the doctor calls, and then we’re awash in the humbling awareness that our plans are ever so fragile. Our plans depend on so much more than us—our plans depend on all manner of people and systems to cooperate, and that cooperation is always tenuous and never guaranteed. Thus, our plans are—and have always been—subject to change without notice.

This passage from James 4 comes to mind:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

Oof. Apparently, I’m not a master of my own destiny. More a mist than a master, and so I shouldn’t go around boasting about my plans. But what’s the alternative? Are we supposed to make it all up as we go along? Does God want us to abandon the practice of making plans altogether? Not quite. James 4 adds:

Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

Here the invitation from God isn’t to abandon our plans, but to think rightly about ourselves and our plans as we make them: I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, my life is a mist, and my plans are subject to change without notice, so therefore I will hold tightly to Jesus and hold loosely to my plans.

I had plans for this spring. You probably did too. Chances are you have had to cancel or modify those plans in ways you never could’ve imagined when you first made them.

I have plans for this summer. You probably do too. What has become of those plans? We just don’t know yet, do we? Here’s what we can know: I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, my life is a mist, and my plans are subject to change without notice, so therefore I will hold tightly to Jesus and hold loosely to my plans.

There’s no doubt in my mind God wants to use these unprecedented circumstances to teach and re-teach us important things about who he is, who we are, how to love our neighbors, and how to live well in the world. With our plans canceled, modified, postponed, or in doubt, let us attend to God’s presence with us so that we can rejoice in him and trust that he holds the future.

Do you have questions?

Anything from faith to family to relationships or the world. We'd like to answer them.

We'd like to answer them

We Recommend Reading Next: