Plans vs. Purpose

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’S purpose that prevails.”  

Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

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I am a creative.

I am not analytical or strategic in my thought patterns. I am a dreamer; a great fantasizer of the “what ifs” and “just maybes”.

I could care less about math and science, but would simply die without music or other arts.

That doesn’t mean I’m not a great planner. I’ve learned how to plan a heck of a party or vacation, but it’s usually done with the grandest schemes in mind. I hate taking things like budget, logistics or schedules into account when dreaming up new plans. (Which is probably why my husband is the financial manager of our household.)

I have planned many, many things in the last 10 years…

  • Start a jewelry making business, event-planning business, t-shirt company, (name any other business idea here)
  • Write a book
  • Get my bachelor’s degree
  • Quit my job and become a professional photographer
  • Become a bartender, hairdresser, music-teacher, etc.
  • Learn how to play guitar and become a songwriter
  • Start, yet, another blog

The list goes on and on and on…

Every single dream, thought, ambition and plan have boiled down to one single struggle in my own heart: How do I show the world who I am? 

We, intrinsically, desire to be valued. As humans, we seek love and approval with as much intent and need as we seek water or food.

We want our parents, spouses, children, friends, co-workers and even strangers to see us and feel pride in knowing us because we are so great. It is natural, human and completely unbalanced.

The word “plan” in the New International Version of Proverbs 19:21 actually comes from the Greek word machashabah (mahk-ash-aw-baw) meaning curious work, cunning or imagination, whereas, the word for “purpose” is `etsah (ay-tsaw’) meaning prudence and counsel.

It should be no surprise to us that our hearts are curious and imaginative. God created us to be just that. Curiosity has its place in our lives. It leads us to amazingly beautiful new experiences and to a place of understanding and knowledge. However, curiosity without purpose (counsel and prudence) can be wasteful, hurtful, and even…devastating.

For example all of my children have been naturally curious. As a mother, I love that they want to go to new places, try new things, experience life…but to let them spin-off, out-of-control, could lead to utter disaster in their lives. They could end up hurting themselves or others. They may be curious about electricity, but that doesn’t mean I will let them stick their tongues in a light socket. They may be curious about God’s incredible creatures of the ocean, but that doesn’t mean that swimming with Great White Sharks is prudent.

Those are the easy lessons, right? The above paragraph probably had many of you thinking, “Well, duh, Brandi.”

What about the seemingly harmless things over which we make plans to satisfy our curiosities?

After my brother passed away in August of last year, I, without realizing it, filled my life and time with distractions that were, from most viewpoints, harmless. I went back to college, spent more time with small church groups, binged on Netflix and had a justifiable reason for every new plan.

“I’m going back to get my degree. It’s time and since my company offers tuition reimbursement, it doesn’t make sense not to.” 

“I’m going to dedicate every Tuesday and Thursday night and Sunday to church and “churchy” things because spending more time with God’s people is good for me.” 

“I’m just going to relax and watch mindless tv today because I’m spent.”

Those were my PLANS.

I literally, imagined, organized and executed my own burn-out.

Brilliant.

By the holiday season, I was D-U-N, done.

I broke. Literally, lost it.

In a single week, every plan I had ever made for myself crumbled right before my very eyes. I went from over-committing, dreaming, wishing, thinking, imagining (and let’s not forget hiding) to a place of absolute stillness and deafening quiet.

God did what, only God, can do. He whispered quietly, but clearly, to my heart…”Are you done now? Is it my turn?

*woosah*

Yes, Lord.

Here’s the thing. Our plans, without alignment to God’s purpose, will always lead us astray. It doesn’t matter if those plans include gifts He has given you or people He has placed in your life. You may be able to bring others to tears with your amazing singing: you might be the most gifted orator of your generation, but without the prudent counsel of your Heavenly Father, you are simply wasting breath and making noise.

I determined, after time alone with the Holy Spirit, meditation on His Word and many, many, MANY conversations with Jesus that it was time for me to say “NO” to anything that He did not intentionally purpose in my heart and to say “YES”, emphatically, to everything He did.

Since that decision, several things have happened:

  • Several things have dropped off my “to-do” list.
  • The origination of my VALUE realigned itself to the heart of God. The desire to determine my value on the opinions of anyone else, including my own spouse, children, closest friends, and family, has diminished significantly just as the acceptance that I am valuable because God said it so, continues to grow.
  • The relationships that God intended to be the most important in my life have come clearer into view and now get the very best of my time and attention.

The most incredible thing to happen was that my focus, attention, and intention shifted from the distracting and time-consuming plans I had made to the purpose of God for this season of my life.

Let me very clear, though, about a couple of things.

First, God’s purpose (His prudent counsel, wisdom, guidance, the intention of your path) will never contradict His Word. It will align completely with the promises of the Old Testament and the person of Jesus Christ. Do not be swayed by your emotions, your intellect, or the noise around you.

Which leads me to my next point, God’s purpose for your life may lead you somewhere you never planned to go.  As you develop your wholehearted relationship with Him (which ultimately is the primary purpose for our existence), He may draw out new gifts, talents, dreams and desires from your heart all while leading you away from anything and/or anyone that left you held captive, wandering in the wilderness or wounded on the side of the road.

This is where many of us stop and panic when we should be focused on the promise of His Word.

Deuteronomy 31:8 says this…

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (NIV)

Always remember that there is nowhere you can go that He has not already been and will be as you make that journey. Align your plans with His purpose. You might be as surprised as I have been.

“It’s time. You have a story to tell.”

Yes, Lord. Let’s tell it together.

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