Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Successful Path

            “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”  (Proverbs 16:3)

            “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.”  (Proverbs 3:5-6) 

            I have had many plans over the years, great things I was going to do or accomplish.  But things haven’t worked out the way I planned.  For instance, I got my Master’s degree in psychology and planned on working.  Instead, I had four sons and chose to stay home and raise them, even homeschooling them.  (And I wouldn't change it for the world!)  And I wrote a book about my life and wanted to get it published.  Instead, I discovered that no one wanted to publish it and no one I shared it with wanted to read it.  So I gave it away on-line for free.  My plans didn’t succeed.  My path didn’t go in the direction I thought it would. 
            When I was younger, the above verses seemed to mean “If you tell God that you are dedicating your plans to Him, He will make things work out the way you planned.  If you trust Him to do what you ask, He will do it.”
            Yes, there is a certain amount of “He will do what you trust Him to do” in life, as seen in the way Jesus heals those who have the faith that He will heal them.  But when it comes to our plans for our life, it isn’t always that way.  Many plans and dreams – even godly ones – do not come to fruition (at least where we can see, on this side of eternity).  So how am I to understand those verses?
            As I look back on life now, I like to think of those verses more like this: If you give God control over your plans – the right to develop them and change them and guide you down the paths He wants you to take – your plans will succeed.  They will succeed if God has control of the planning.  And God gets to define what “success” means. 
            In my mind, success meant getting my degree and working.  But in God’s eyes, success meant investing my heart and soul into raising my children in a godly home and learning to do the humble, overlooked, non-flashy, housewife jobs to the best of my ability, for Him and His glory. 
            I thought success was publishing that book and seeing it touch lives.  But God decided that success was the spiritual growth I experienced as I struggled with “failure”: learning humility and contentment, to trust God’s goodness and wisdom even when things don’t work out the way I want, to be faithful and to praise Him anyway, to let Him be my all and fill my soul, to cling to Him in good times and bad, to count the blessings and find joy in Him even when life hurts, and to discover what it really means to “commit my plans to the Lord,” to give Him the right to do with them as He pleases, to follow instead of lead. 
            If we want our plans to be successful in God’s eyes, we have to let go of the need to be in-control, to plan in our own wisdom, to lead instead of follow, to force things to happen the way we think they should, and to define success. 
            And we need to keep our eyes open to what He is doing, keep our hearts sensitive to listening for His guidance and instructions, keep our wills in submission to His, keep committed to radical obedience and glorifying Him in all we do, keep counting the blessings that we find on the journey, and immerse ourselves daily in the Word. 
            God’s “straight path” doesn’t always lead to earthly success and abundance.  And it doesn’t always make sense to us.  Instead, His path is full of confusing twists, turns, detours, obstacles, set-backs, and foggy steps forward.  But if we give Him ownership over our plans, they will accomplish what He wants them to accomplish.  They will be successful, in His eyes and for His purposes.  If we allow Him to chart out our path and if we follow where He leads, we will always be where He wants us to be.  And we can trust that even if it doesn’t lead to “earthly success,”  His path will always lead to eternal success.  Treasures in Heaven!                        

            Are you on the path to earthly pleasures or heaven’s treasures?