The Best Laid Plans
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (Acts 9:1-6)
Saul, or Paul as he came to be known, was a real "up-and-comer." He had the right education and the right contacts to go get a commission to take out after the followers of Jesus and destroy them. He probably had great plans for the future. I think that had he continued on the path he was on, he could have become a very famous Jewish Rabbi. Then he encountered Jesus and things changed. You might say he developed an alternative lifestyle after that.
Mankind loves to make plans. We are told we need to set goals, make plans and execute them in order to be successful. It's how we secure our future isn't it? This is yet another expression of our instinct for survival. If we can plan out the future, we have a better chance of survival. It's also an expression of man's desire to control his own destiny.
Unfortunately, as the poet said, the best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry. Just because we have some plans laid out doesn't mean things will go the way we want.
Luke 12:16-20 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
There's another man who had it all planned out. He thought every thing would just go on and on the same and had so much wealth he could just kick back and enjoy it all. Ooops.
So, the future is uncertain even when we have goals set and plans made and execute our plans fully. If you look at human history you find that in every culture there are those who can claim to solve this little problem of uncertainty. In ancient times they were oracles or soothsayers or astrologers. Today we have experts in market trends and social trends and this trend and that trend. They have all sorts of computers and models and charts and stuff and will tell you that they can reduce the uncertainty of your future. It's another example of man trying to control his own destiny and make himself secure in the process. Usually, their predictions aren't worth the paper they print them on.
Unfortunately, this attitude gets dragged over into Bible study as well. A lot of people will do very detailed study of Bible prophecy and get out their astronomy charts, and calendars and calculators and lexicons and have at it until they think they know exactly when things are going to happen. They try to make the word of God an inside scoop on the future. It's the same old thing of trying to control their own destiny. I think that maybe prophecy is so hard to pin down because that's the way God wants it. It's not a way to easily predict the future. It is a way that God can point at events after the fact and say, "See, I told you so." Fulfilled prophecy shows man that God was in control from the beginning to the end and is yet another reason we know we can trust Him.
So what are we to do then? We can plan for things, and often we should do so, but we can't get stuck on our own planning. The Lord may have other things planned and we need to be adaptable to change and go a different way when he says go. If the Lord tells us to specifically prepare for something, then it would be stupid to not prepare. But we always have to remember that it is His plan, not ours. We walk by faith, not by sight.