I was recently introduced to one of my new favorite words: "plannering." It means exactly what it sounds like; it's the act of writing in your planner.
But plannering isn't just writing down your to-do's in plain black ink. It's an art form, including doodles, color-coordination, and stickers. Search the term on Pinterest, and you'll see what I mean. I'm obsessed.
Most individuals who are at all interested in the concept of "plannering" are probably planners themselves. They love knowing every little detail of their future, solving problems before they happen, and making timelines for how their situations should unfold. These people hate ambiguity and unknowns; they want answers and schedules and they need to plan ahead.
Alright, so, I was describing myself there. Guilty as charged. I love a good plan, and a good planner (I'm trying out a Day Designer planner this year, btw). But recently, I've been asking myself: is it healthy to prepare for my future with such intensity?
The Bible calls us to surrender and reminds us over and over that God loves us too much to let us be completely in charge of our lives. But even still, with a new school year just around the corner, I'm tempted to jump into my timelines and start telling God how I want my junior year to unfold.
Am I going to enter into the school year with my perfect plan and a list of everything I'd like God to do for me over the next few months? Or will I enjoy that blank slate, stop worrying about the future, and surrender my life to the One who I believe is really in charge?
Surrender is much easier to talk about than to live out. Unfortunately, I can recall many times I've told God that I trust His plan wholeheartedly, but then just moments later, I feel afraid and return to my hyper-controlling tendencies. And believe me, I am a master of control. I think I'll feel secure when I have a comprehensive map of when my future should twist and turn. But lately, God has been reminding me that even our most detailed human plans are inherently flawed and definitely subject to life's curveballs.
The other day, I stumbled across a Psalm that convicted me about how I think about the future. To be very honest, I was probably subconsciously planning and predicting the day ahead as I read the passage. But Psalm 46:10 stopped me in my tracks:
"Surrender your anxiety. Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God."
Psalm 46:10 gives us two straightforward instructions if we want to see God in all of his sovereignty. Be silent and stop striving. Another version of this verse tells us to "be still and know that I am God."
God only asks us to be silent, stop striving, and see His goodness and provision. Nothing more, nothing less. No where in the Bible are we asked to be the master planners of our lives - we are called to trust that He won't forget us as part of His master plan. And, God's plans are better than my best - so He's really just relieving me of stress and blessing me with more than I can comprehend (dang, He's a good one! Thank you Jesus!)
He doesn't need our help when it comes to the future. Our cooperation, yes, but not our help. Simply put, He's God and we aren't. His power and provision are beyond what we can comprehend. So why should we waste our energy trying to control every possible outcome and worrying about things that probably won't even happen? Be silent and stop your striving. Be still and know.
The vast majority of the control we think we have is an illusion. We can (and should!!!) make positive choices to set ourselves up for a safe, happy, and healthy life. But there's a big difference between setting yourself up for success and planning for a future that always goes your way. When we get too attached to our ideal outcomes, we miss out on celebrating what God is doing in our lives right here and now, because we're bitter it doesn't look exactly how we thought it would. We'll never really know how our futures will turn out until we arrive. Be silent and stop your striving. Be still and know.
When I try to play the role of God in my life, I will always come up short. Surprise surprise. I mean, that was kind of the story of my sophomore year. I thought I knew how things were going to happen for me, and God turned it all around to show me that I will always, truly, deeply, need Him for my fulfillment. I had to humble myself and surrender my heart to a God who's plans are way better than anything I could dream up. I learned it's unwise to place my hope and identity into the fleeting things of this earth when I believe in a God who never changes.
And here we are, a year later, and God is teaching me a different version of the same story. He loves me too much to let me be in charge. This whole "control" thing is really a pointless game to play when we have a God who already knows everything about us (check out Psalm 139) and has already planned out our futures (James 4:13-16). His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Be silent and stop your striving. Be still and know.
Before I think up all the best and worst case scenarios for junior year, I need to remind myself that I am not called to be in control. Honestly, that's a blessing, because when I go managing and manipulating my future for some peace of mind, I always end up disappointed.
So as I highlight and doodle on the upcoming dates in my planner, I'm trying my very best not to imagine them in my version of picture-perfect. I want to start this year from a place of surrender instead of strangling my future with such a tight grip that I'm blind to where God is working. I want to leave my prideful ways behind so I’m not surprised when things don’t unfold exactly as I planned. I want to release my hopes and dreams and fears to God, trusting He’s already taken care of it.
God already knows how each and every one of our days will go. So why should we worry? I promise you, God's not worried. He's the best at planning, and probably plannering too. Be silent and stop your striving. Be still and know.