At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
There are many devices in a man’s heart; Nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.Proverbs 19:21
We have a proverb in English that states much the same truth. Man proposes, God disposes.
A man’s head can be crammed full of ideas, and he thinks that he can go first here, and then over there. When he is done, he will do thus and such, and make a pile of money.
“Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil” (James 4:13–16).
Men can think up many plans, but only the Lord’s will is going to be accomplished at the end of the day. That being the case, the point should be surrendered in principle before the first step is taken.
Note that we are not surrendering the point in principle if we say something like, “I have prayed about it, and it is the Lord’s will that . . .” This is compounding the sin of arrogance, not actually hedging against it. James tells us that we must leave the outcome entirely in the hands of God. If He determines that the thing will be done, then it will in fact be done. If not, then not.
At this point, some become fatalistic. They shrug and say, “What’s the use then?” Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. But this is too simplistic as well. If we read through the book of Proverbs carefully, we see that we are commanded in multiple places to pay attention to cause and effect. If we pay attention to this pattern of cause and effect, then we will see trouble coming and avoid it—we will learn that industry leads to wealth, we will not marry a quarrelsome woman, and so on. If we put this together, we will see that our planning is essential, and that it is equally important that we not trust in our planning.