Word-y Gifts for Christian Faith & Life

Plans, Resolutions & Purpose

On New Year’s Eve, as I was thinking through my goals for the year, I remembered a 12-year-old journal entry that I came across recently. In it, I had detailed, after considerable thought and with incredible clarity (if I may say!), some goals and what I thought was the most efficient way to achieve them. Looking at it, I was struck by how much of what I had earnestly desired and hoped for back then had happened (or was happening). It had not all happened the way I thought it would, of course, and it most certainly had not happened in the time I had hoped. There had been some unwanted surprises and inconveniences along the way—starts, stops, disappointments, frustrations, roadblocks and detours—that slowed my progress and made me wonder if I had lost my way or if I should reconsider my direction altogether. I now see how the inconveniences served many useful functions—they were indispensable character-building blocks, protective barriers, set-ups for the next thing in my journey, tools that taught me how to persevere and fight through difficulties, and rest stops that provided time for much-needed reflection. I do not miss the things that did not happen; in fact, I now see the many rejections and failures along the way as having kept me from wasting time or as set-ups for better and much richer experiences. It turns out that I did not need some of what I thought I needed after all.

I now understand that our lives are not meant to be mechanically engineered or manipulated into some image of what we think they ought to be—they are to be allowed to unfold as our Maker intended. Although we should (a) have a vision and goals for our lives, (b) plan thoughtfully and carefully, and (c) work diligently towards the fulfillment of our goals, we would be wiser to hold those plans loosely, understanding that “many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Prov. 19:21).

Happy New Year!

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