Who’s got the Playbook?
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9 ESV
Have you ever noticed when you try to “work everything out” it never works?
I hate to admit it, but I have maneuvered behind the scenes to get my boys in the right teacher’s classroom, on the best baseball teams, connected to “good” friends, or even “liked” for their accomplishments on Facebook. Only to end up with the teacher moving to a different grade level and an unknown person taking over the class; the Little League headquarters re-drawing boundary lines in order to create new districts and new teams thus placing us with a whole new group of players and coaches; the good friends’ families deciding to move away, and forever running out of time to keep up with the “like” competition on Facebook.
So much for working everything out.
Our scripture passage today has a lot to say about the plans of our hearts and the maneuvering we do in order to make things work out the way we think they should. The writer of Proverbs tells us that “the plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:1). God is basically telling us “go ahead and plan, but ultimately the outcome is mine.”
In verse two the writer digs a little deeper into our propensity to plan, and says “all the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes.” Every one of us thinks we are doing the right thing when we are working “behind the scenes” to give our kids (or ourselves) what we see as being the best for them (or us). We often deceive ourselves about the purity of our motives. Like a puppeteer making a marionette dance, the hidden motivators of our actions- pride, ego, fear, or insecurity are behind the scenes pulling our strings.
So what is a girl to do when she is worried about the future and wants what’s best for her tribe and is being told to stop manipulating?
First, she needs to know that the “Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble” (16:4). God’s got it under control. Let Him be in charge.
Second, she needs to turn her playbook over to God. She needs to stop drawing up passing schemes and trust God to coach the team. “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established” (16:3).
Third, she needs to do what is pleasing to God and not just what strokes her ego or soothes her troubled spirit. “When man’s ways pleases the Lord, he makes even his enemies be at peace with him” (16:7).
Last, she needs to let go. She needs to trust the process and let the One who knows the way lead. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (16:9).
When it comes to our lives, we can plan it, but in the end we need to commit it to God and then let it go.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Proverbs 9:9-10 (ESV)
It is just so hard to talk to her about anything. No matter what I say, she has done it better, or knows more about it, or has never had a problem like that before. The window to an intimate friendship is being slammed shut. I no longer want to share thoughts or ideas with her, much less feelings or concerns. Why should I? What I say doesn’t matter and she knows what is best anyway. Like a walnut that is too hard to crack, I can’t get past the shell of “expertise” that surrounds her.
Maybe you have some walnuts in your life too. People who are hard to be around. People encrusted with shells of arrogance, negativity, and judgment. I just recently learned that walnut trees are poisonous. These nut producing trees emit a substance that kills everything that is planted around them.
Just as walnut trees are toxic, so are some people. Proverbs calls them “scoffers.” Scoffers love to set stuff on fire and watch it burn. Scoffers destroy. Scoffers refuse to listen and learn. Proverbs 9:8 tells us it is futile to try and correct a scoffer.
Walnuts are always going to be poisonous.
On the contrary, as I read this passage in Proverbs, I am reminded of how important receptiveness is in our lives. Like the chorus of a song repeated after each verse, Proverbs 9:7-12 resounds with the refrain for us to be open to instruction. The wise man will listen. The wise man will learn. The wise man will be supple. The wise man will flourish.
You see, the wise man is a marigold. Marigolds help other plants near them grow. Marigolds sustain. Marigolds nurture and nourish. Marigolds make every plant around them thrive.
Personally, I hate being wrong and I’m not always the most receptive to correction, but I don’t want to be a walnut. I don’t want to be poisonous to all those who are around me spreading discouragement and negativity.
I want to be like the wise man who when given instruction, “he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning” (Proverbs 9:9).
I want to make those around me flourish.
I want to be a marigold.
Things to Ponder:
What areas of your life might need some “cracking”?
Where can you be a marigold?
Maybe you need to pray for the walnut trees in your life and ask for God to bring you some marigolds.
If you want to read more about the marigold effect and teaching: https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/marigolds
The Heart of the Matter
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
I clicked the link at the bottom of the page and my computer blinked and a new screen with a giant logo filled the space in front of me. Three words loomed before me: One Word 365.
I had been following my heart of being more intentional in my walk with the Lord and was meeting with Him early in the morning before heading off to work when I encountered the One Word 365 site. As I read my devotional for the day, the author talked about giving up resolutions for the New Year and finding one word to direct her life for the next 365 days.
It was December 2014 and I had just had my first encounter with One Word 365. My word came easily that year-intentional. I had already been convicted of having good intentions, but not following through with them, so intentional was the logical choice. The next year, 2016, the word relinquish was pressed upon my heart. Last year, God called me to follow.
This year I have been nudged to be bold in 2018.
I posted my discovery on Facebook that first year and invited my friends to join me in this One Word adventure. As my Facebook feed began to grow with words, my desire to share them also grew. The words being shared were personal, motivating, healing and most of all heart felt. Thus, the first word heart was built.
Proverbs 3:1-6 reminds us that what we hold close to our hearts is what guides our thoughts and actions. The writer admonishes us to write steadfast love and faithfulness on our hearts. These two character traits are to be the anchors of our hearts.
Then he tells us to trust God with ALL our hearts- not part of it, but all of it. Trusting God calls me to lean into Him no matter what is swirling around in the air around me. I am to trust that He knows what is going on in my life and that He is smart enough and strong enough to handle it.
I don’t multi-task well and I am grateful God gives me one-word directions-trust, seek, follow, acknowledge, write, bind, and keep. I have fallen in love with my One Word 365 discovery because I believe God has spoken to me each year through the word that repeatedly echoed in my heart.
This year trust was one of the most chosen words for 2018, followed closely by seeking. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
What will be your one word for 2018?
Pray and ask God to impress upon your heart one word to guide your walk with Him this year.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control- 2 Timothy 1:7.
I have spent most of my life living in the shadow of fear and insecurity. Afraid to try. Afraid to fail. Afraid to hurt someone’s feelings. Afraid to look foolish in the eyes of others. Afraid to speak up or step out of the shadows. Afraid of disappointing someone. Afraid of not being liked. Not to mention my fear of heights, snakes, and the unknown.
Fear has both protected and hindered me. Fear protected me from partaking in risky behavior and addictive substances. Fear guarded me against dangerous places. But as safe as fear kept me, it also hindered me. Fear kept me from challenging myself from trying new things. Fear robbed me of confidence. Fear silenced my opinion and tied my tongue in knots when I should have spoken up. Fear bound me in ways God never intended for me to be tied up. Paul writes in Galatians 5:1 (ESV), For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
My journey with one word for 365 days began in 2015. My first word was to be intentional. The next year brought me to relinquish. Last year I was called to follow. This year God is challenging me to be bold. You see bold is more than brave. Bold is a counter move to being afraid. Bold takes brave and puts it in action. Bold requires confidence. Bold says I believe in something therefore I am going to do something about it. Bold blasts through the walls of fear and allows us to stand firmly on the truth of what God says about us inspite of the shifting sands of insecure feelings.
Personally, I have become tired of living in the shadow of fear. I want to step boldly into the fullness of who God has called me to be. I want to embrace the gifts and abilities God has given me and boldly use them in the ways He leads, without fear and timidity, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control- 2 Timothy 1:7.
My friends, I challenge you to find one word to guide your next 365 days. Allow God to speak a word to your heart. Listen to His quiet whisper and follow His leading. Commit to letting a word guide your thoughts, words and actions this year. Then watch to see what God is doing in you and through you in 2018.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)
Things to Ponder:
What will your word be for 2018?
What is God calling you to do this year?
What area of your life needs a "makeover"?
Words to Ponder:
Since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 2 Corinthians 3:12 (ESV)
And also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:19-20 (ESV)
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37 (ESV)
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.