As many of you who have been reading this post for a few months can probably already guess, I am a type "A" personality. I prefer to be a well-organized, I like to make plans well in advance, and because I am well aware of the fact that things don't always go as planned, I usually have a "Plan 'A'" as well as a "Plan 'B'". And sometimes I even have a "Plan 'C'"! You never can be too careful, you know, and it's important to try to plan for all possible scenarios...

Of course, my "plans" all have timelines attached, and nothing stresses me more than to be "off-schedule", even in the least, and the day it rained on our hiking plans, I wasn't very happy.

The longer I live with this particular "Type A" personality trait, the more I realize how much stress I create for myself. Wouldn't life be simpler if I were to simply let things play out and come up with my plans as the need arises?

This is, actually, a Biblical concept: "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit'--yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring...Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.'" (James 4:13-15 ESV)

In other words, when we spend our time making our "Plan 'A'"s and "Plan 'B'"s, we are basically wasting our time, because, "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain." (Ps. 127:1 ESV); and "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." (Prov. 19:21 ESV)

So am I supposed to just stop making plans altogether?

I have to admit that there is some stress-relief in the mere thought. But there is also stress in the thought, for one of my ways of dealing with anticipated stress is to put together my plans!

But how good are my plans, anyway? The Bible says, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Is. 55:9 ESV). This means that no matter how carefully I plan, God's plan is always better.

So what do I do that will relieve stress instead of increasing it?

The Bible gives us clear guidance for this: "Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established." (Prov. 16:3 ESV)

Wait. "...your plans will be established..." Doesn't that mean that I will have plans after all? If I simply commit myself to God, submitting to His will no matter what that may turn out to be, if I simply leave myself open to His working in my life, then I will have that plan that my sense of order and control so crave?

The truth is, we can make all the plans we like, but it is God who sees the end from the beginning. It is God who establishes what we do and don't do: "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." (Prov. 16:9 ESV)

Okay, I'm still having some problems with this. I've spent far too much of my life with my precious "Plan 'A'"s to "Plan 'C'"s. I know myself, I know my personality, I know how important those plans are to my stress management. Can I really trust God to know--better than I do?

The answer, a resounding "Yes!", comes to us from Jeremiah: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jer. 29:11 ESV).

But isn't it my right to direct my own steps? Consider the following: "I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps." (Jeremiah 10:23 ESV). In other words, it isn't even my place to try to direct my steps. When I make my precious "Plan 'A'"s to "Plan 'C'"s, I am, in essence, taking on one of God's jobs...

I don't know about you, but I think maybe I will try to dispose of my precious "Plan 'A'"s to "Plan 'C'"s. Or maybe better yet, I will try to not make them in the first place. Instead, I will replace them with a "Plan 'G'"--God's plan--the plan I don't have to stress about making, for it takes care of all the details that tend to cause me so much stress, and I can rest assured it is the best plan out there.

And if He hasn't revealed to me yet what that "Plan 'G'" is, then perhaps I should simply: "Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" (Ps. 27:14 ESV)...

What about it? Shall it be "Plan 'A'" or "Plan 'G'"?

Oh, and that day when it rained on my hiking plans? "Plan 'G'" included a rare sighting (for me!) of a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers dancing around a tree not 10 metres from where I sat...

In His love,
Lyn


Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.


(To access the entire "Lessons From Cape Breton" mini-series, please click here.)