Life is full of plans, dreams and decisions. Some are exciting, such as a new house, marriage, which college to go to, and things of this nature. Others can very difficult, such as deciding what to do after your girlfriend or boyfriend breaks up with you, caring for an ailing parent or loved one, how to respond when someone had wronged you, etc.
We cannot escape it. Life is full of planning and decisions. Here is a question for us. What is the actual process do we typically go through in making plans? Do we list the options we have? Do we lay out the pros and cons of each option? Do we think of various possible scenarios with the various options in front of us? Do we inventory the possible costs involved? Do we consider the emotional, psychological, and physical impact?
It seems only natural and wise to do these sorts of things. Some of the most successful people we know of do these sorts of things. Here is another consideration to chew on. Consider this proverb:
"Many plans are in a man's heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand" (Prov 19:21).
The Hebrew word, "plans" is from "Macheshevah," which means thought, plan, purpose, or device. The proverb states there are many in man's heart. Can you relate to this? I could, especially when I was younger. The younger you are, the more plans and aspirations you have in your heart. Even from the time you are a small child, there were probably some aspirations with some rudimentary plans on how to fulfill them. What kind of plans and aspirations have you had in your lifetime? What kind do you have now?
This proverb seems to suggest than the "many plans" in a man's heart may not stand. However, it goes on to say, "But the counsel of the LORD will stand." The Hebrew word, "counsel" comes from the word, etsah, which is a typical word used among the sages to talk about advice, guidance, consultation, or instruction. Only the guidance and instruction of the LORD will stand.
These means that before weighing pros and cons, before thinking through possible scenarios, before weighing the physical or emotional costs, before making plans, we need to start with the counsel of the LORD.
Is this a part of our normal planning and decision-making process? Do we involve the Lord in the process from the beginning, or do we decide what we are going to do and then ask God to bless our decision? Perhaps we do not give God a conscious thought at all in our day to day planning. God needs to be the first and foremost consideration in all we do.
So, how do we seek the counsel of the Lord? It has to involve prayer and the word. This is why the Apostles saw their most important ministry as being devoted to prayer and ministry of the word (Acts 6:4). Whenever making plans or facing decisions, the first response should be prayer. This needs to be accompanied by consideration for what God instructs us in his word. There is a third resource that involves the counsel of wise men and women of God who can give sound, wise, biblical, godly guidance. With these resources, we have the counsel of the LORD which will stand.