She Has A Plan
At the start of this new year, are you making fear-based decisions or faith-based ones? Proverbs 31:16 recognises the benefits of a woman who had a plan and sticks with it. However, the transition between new year’s eve and January 1st always seems to quieten that convincing sound in our heads that we will be ‘she’ who has a plan and stick to it no matter what this new year brings. But as good as our good intentions are all our methods and ideas fall back into the trap of comparing and measuring ourselves against others very quickly and we find we’re trusting in man within the first week of January rather than trusting in God. So, do you want to thrive in 2023? Then you need to be the ‘she’ who has a plan!
‘She has a plan’ could perhaps be the title for the whole of Proverbs 31. Reading about this truly excellent woman can get women all stressed and anxious because we compare and measure her against our own shortcomings, failings, and inadequacies. The dreaded Proverbs 31 woman who seems to linger over us, the one who has her life all wrapped up in a neat, little package tied up with a big, red bow.
However, if we dig a little deeper and see the Proverbs woman, who is worth more than rubies, we discover a woman of character because she chooses to stick to her plan. We see her wisdom as the result of trusting and knowing who God is and then outworking all that into her life in response to His character.
Each step of her plan follows God’s instruction. There is no space in her plan for fear or worry or doubts to gain any traction. She focuses all her energy on the plan as she considers and plants, inspires and moves, rises and makes, equips and spins, reaches and extends. She’s always choosing wisely and carefully because she is directed by the plan. And because her plan is always pointing to the One who knows the end from the beginning she is safe.
Many distractions come into our plan only when we feel our security is being threatened. Whether it’s physically, financially, or emotionally, we lose our way and become afraid as our choices and options feel cramped and limited because the plan we need to stick with feels too tight, too suffocating, and too constrained. So, we look for our value, our worth in man, we search for the stamp of his approval rather than God’s approval.
Don’t get me wrong, asking for advice and talking things through with trusted friends certainly helps, but the discussions should clarify your plan rather than confuse it. Jeremiah 17:5-8 says, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in the salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.’
And it’s the ‘…makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord’ is where our plan unravels because the fear of man’s opinion disables our destiny. If we are always worrying about what people say and think about the plan God has for our lives we’ll never achieve anything. Personally, I struggle with my vocation. Writing is a craft that is unconventional, it doesn’t fit into the parameters of a ‘9-5’ job, and it’s a craft that is mostly individualistic. Some people when they find out you’re a writer either admire your guts and determination or steer clear of you completely because to them writing is kooky, inconsistent, or just plain odd. And so, I start to compare myself to others and look at what they’re doing and wonder if I’ve missed something, or if I’ve made the wrong turn instead of trusting in the plan God has for my life. I worry that the plan is just me heading full speed straight toward a cliff edge believing I’m inevitably going to freefall off into it and just become another one of those dilapidated poor saps who wind up in the inhabited salt land of broken dreams.
She who has a plan needs to be aware of this danger at all costs because double mindedness ship wreaks our destiny. James 1:6-9 reminds us that ‘The key is that your request be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God. Those who depend only on their own judgement are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind. Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused.’
How can we ever find the true north of our callings and destines if the splinter of divided loyalty shatters our compasses? She that has a plan is loyal to the cause and is always pointing in the right direction, even when the seas get choppy and the winds of change try moving her off course.
The enemy knows the ‘she’ who has a plan and his scheme isn’t to stop her, oh no, that’s way too obvious. No, he rather disables her, impairs her focus, and immobilises her so that her plan, or rather God’s plan for her grinds to a halt. She that has a plan knows it is really God’s plan and the enemy knows this too because it is better to have she who has a plan to become lame and limp with fear and doubt so it damages her trust in God rather than stop her moving forward. Oh yes, that’s much more immobilising and harmful to her faith. Also, the enemy is very good at throwing a little shade on a bright future, lessening the joy and passion a little, you know, snuffing out all the oxygen first which ignites her dreams rather than snuffing her out altogether.
This is why the enemy gets you to focus on comparing and wondering what everyone else is doing, looking at their plan instead of your own. Comparing our past, our present and our future with others, checking the blueprints of their future against your own. But then again, Proverbs 29:25 helps the she who has a plan to know that ‘If you fear other people, you are walking into a dangerous trap; but if you trust in the Eternal, you will be safe.’ I am reminded of the Christian group, Casting Crowns, who wrote something many years ago that I have often referred to when I feel like the splinter of division has shattered my compass, leaving me dizzy and confused to find my true north. They said…
“So many of us obsess over things outside our control. We fret over our past because we’re afraid it will either come back to bite us or we’ll fall back into it. Then we sweat over our future because we either fear we’ll blow it yet again or we fear what God will allow into our lives. Either we believe God is sovereign and arranges all of our circumstances, or else we believe some things are beyond His control. If we believe the latter, that means we believe in whim and happenstance, that means we believe in chaos.”
Are you feeling like a shrub in the desert? Perhaps it’s because you’ve started this new year letting fear-based decisions overrule your faith-based ones. I know, I too have fallen into that trap the enemy so carefully laid out for me. She who has a plan, the she who knows it’s from God and sticks to that plan regardless of what the enemy throws her way, shall be like a tree planted by the waters whose leaves will be green and always bearing fruit.
Do you want to thrive in 2023? Then you need to be the ‘she’ who has a plan. A plan that falls in step with God and is followed through with boldness and consistency. This is your journey dear fellow traveller, no one else’s. And wherever God guides you, know that He has given you His strength to never give up!
Have you allowed fear-based decisions to override your faith-based ones at the start of this year?
I pray that the Proverbs 31 woman will inspire you to choose whom you’ll put your trust in. Man will always let you down, but God never fails you because He is good and He is faithful. Amen.