Daily Bible Reading Reflections

“You Who Carry Out a Plan, But Not Mine”

I have plans. You have plans. Here’s a question worth thinking about today: “Do the plans I’m making and hoping for and carrying out harmonize with God’s plans?”

In Isaiah 30:1-2, the LORD delivered a strong message to his people through his prophet.

“Ah, stubborn children,” declares the LORD,
“who carry out a plan, but not mine,
and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit,
that they may add sin to sin;
who set out to go down to Egypt,
without asking for my direction,
to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh
and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!”

The people had plans. The problem? Their plans didn’t harmonize with God’s plans. They were making alliances. Taking the Old Testament language literally, they were “weaving a web,” but their perspective and efforts were out of step with God’s Spirit. The people had things to do and places to go, and all was full-steam ahead, but they weren’t asking for God’s direction. They had found refuge, but they were resting everything in the protection of a mere mortal, seeking shelter in the shadow of human civilization, and spurning the Ruler of heaven and earth in the process.

“Ah, stubborn children,” declares the LORD.

Would the same Sovereign in heaven who continues to make his sun rise and his rains fall on the just and the unjust describe us in the same way?

We have plans. Do they harmonize with God’s plans? We make friends, enter into partnerships, weave intricate webs of connection, and come to identify with certain crowds. Are those “alliances” in step with God’s Spirit? We have an endless list of things to do and places to go. Whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, are we doing it all to the glory of God? As our plans come to fruition, are we being drawn nearer to him or drifting further from him? We place a high value on refuge, security, and peace of mind, just like the generations before us. But where are we settling? On what is our faith resting? “Some trust in chariots and some in horses” (Psa 20:7), some in politicians, business moguls, border walls, and nuclear armaments. In all practical reality, is that us? Or is our hope firmly planted in the name of the LORD our God?

When we lose this perspective, we walk by sight and not by faith. When we walk by sight, we have a stubborn tendency to “go astray in spirit” and sin is all-too-easily added to sin. I’ve been there. You’ve been there. What then?

Take a look at Isaiah 29:23-24, the verses leading up to Isaiah 30:1 that we quoted above.

…they will sanctify my name;
they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob
and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding,
and those who murmur will accept instruction.

If I want to avoid being described as a “stubborn child” by my Creator, he must increase and I must decrease. I must stand in awe of him above all others, day by day. I must live and serve and sacrifice for the sake of his name. If I know that I’ve gone astray in spirit, I must come to an understanding of his will, place myself beneath his authority, and humbly apply his wisdom. If the storm clouds of murmuring, restlessness, and despair have darkened the horizon of my life, I must reorient myself to the light of his purpose, his instruction.

By all means, let’s plan, partner, weave, build, and accomplish everything we can in life. But let’s never lose sight of this fundamental truth: God’s plan–for our individual lives, our marriages, our careers, our relationships, our parenting efforts, our congregations, our futures–God’s plan should be the defining influence on our hearts. We will leave him out to our own peril. We will build on our own foundations to our own destruction. My plans may yield temporary treasures on earth; only God’s plans can produce treasures in heaven.

We were created to keep in step with his Spirit (Gal 5:25). What will that look like and sound like today?

“Your plan before my plans.”

“Your name above my name.”

“Not my will, but yours be done.”