At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
The horse is prepared against the day of battle:Proverbs 21:31
But safety is of the Lord.
When it comes to how the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man relate to one another, it doesn’t take much to get our little pea-brains to overload and blow a couple of fuses. Does God do it, or do we? Does God do 99% and then look at us to throw in our 1%? Are we to work as though it all depends on us, and then pray as though it all depends on us? This last question is closest to the truth, but we have to be careful, even here.
The relationship of God to man does not have any strict parallels. We are taught by Scripture to use analogical comparisons, but there are no exact comparisons. Remember the old joke about the test in a philosophy class—“Define the universe. Give three examples.” We are taught to compare God to a Father, but our fathers are not exactly right. We are taught to compare Him to a king, but He is much more than that. We are taught that He is a Rock, and His works are perfect, the analogy does break down.
But we don’t get to abandon the task of reasoning this way. It is mandatory. Hypocrisy is certainly present when someone is living in a way opposite to what they profess, but Jesus teaches us that it is hypocrisy to refuse to apply our knowledge of the natural world to the spiritual world. Hypocrites can discern the signs of the sky but not the signs of the times (Matt. 16:3).
And so God wants us to be prepared for the battle (Prov. 21:31). He wants us to measure our resources before undertaking the building of a tower (Luke 14:28). A prudent man thinks ahead (Prov. 14:8). Unless the Lord builds the house, the one who labors does so in vain (Ps. 127:1). If God is not guarding the city, the watchman can stay awake all he wants, and it will do no good (Ps. 127:1). Rather, we ought to say, if the Lord wills, we will go to thus and such a place, do business, and make money (Jas. 4:15). It really is true that man proposes, and God disposes.
The eye of faith is what enables us to prepare for contingencies as best we know how, knowing that this is what God expects of us, while at the same time understanding that apart from the blessing of God all our preparations are nothing but a loose bale of hay in a tornado. A cynical version of this can be seen in Woody Allen’s comment, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”
Looking for that blessing from God needs to include diligent planning on our part. The trick is to plan diligently without trusting in diligent plans. The plans themselves are worthless. As Dwight Eisenhower put it once, “plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” So as we make our plans, remember that they may or may not come to fruition. But the same moments are encompassed by God’s plans for us (Eph. 2:10), which always come to fruition. Nothing misfires.