"Life's Plan Versus God's Plan"

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By: Katie Rath

Proverbs 16:9, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (NIV)

Do you remember at some point in your life when your teacher asked you to make a life plan? My ninth grade teacher gave my class an assignment to plan the next ten years of our lives. He wanted to know where we thought we’d be, what we might have accomplished, and other various aspects of our futures. Did we want to be married? Have kids? Would we have gone to college, and what kind of jobs did we expect to have? What would we want to do in our free time? Where we would be living? And so on. Of course we kids dreamed big, saying we would be future astronauts and teachers and firefighters, we’d be making lots of money and driving nice cars, and we’d all be married and have kids. Now that I’m much older, I wonder how many of us are doing what we had planned. I know I’m not.

Life is naturally messy. Plans do not always go as you’d hoped, the timing of things can be strange, or expectations can be shattered. You could possibly lose focus or be discouraged when events pop up or when things just go wrong. While some people say “That’s just how life goes,” it’s hard to continue forward with life goals when things get messed up. When your team doesn’t win the championship or you don’t get into your chosen college, you may ask yourself why things didn’t pan out. Or you may even ask God why things happened the way they did. We all ask ourselves why bad things happen to good people, but even the small things can throw your plan off. So the question is, what do you do when life doesn’t go as planned?

The first question you need to ask yourself is “Why was that my goal?” The second, and most important, is “Did my plan line up with God’s plan for me?” It’s very hard to determine what God’s plan is for your life, but more often than not it’s easy to know if your plan would be glorifying to God. If you think your plan was good for you, but it didn’t work out, it’s possible that your plan wasn’t God-centered, and you need to refocus. If you feel your plan was glorifying to God, God probably has something better for you down the road that you would have missed otherwise. We learn from our trials, and we will use those lessons for a reason.

If you’re really discouraged, talk to your parents, a mentor, or a youth leader and ask them to give you a Godly perspective on what steps to take next. Spend some time in prayer, telling God your heart’s desires, and listen for His response. Go through Scripture to make sure that your plans are in line with God’s Word. And most importantly, respond to God with obedience and trust. God tells us, “Love Me first, and I’ll take care of everything else.” When life is messy, God is faithful to take care of all of your plans when you seek His direction.


God, we know that You love us because You sent Your Son, which was Your plan from the beginning. Help us to be patient when things don’t work out. Help us to continually seek Your face and to trust that You do have our best interests in mind. You dream bigger things for us than we could ever do on our own. Let us be faithful in responding to what You tell us in the Bible, and help us to fashion our plans after Yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Related Resources:

My Life Unscripted: Who’s Writing Your Life?, by Tricia Goyer

A Young Woman’s Walk with God: Growing More Like Jesus, by Elizabeth George

Think About It:

What are my life goals? Are they honoring to God?

Am I willing to let God direct my life and goals? If the answer is “No,” why not?

Live It:

If you were asked to write your life plan, what would it look like if you let God write it for you? In other words, how would God’s purpose for you mold your future? Write down your life goals, and then write down how you think God would write your timeline. Commit to following God’s way for you.

Tell Us About It:

When have you seen things not go as you planned them, but then God turned the situation into something good?

Power Verses:

Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” (NIV)

Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” (NIV)

© 2009 by Katie Rath. All rights reserved.

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