In 1786, the great Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote a poem called "To A Mouse". Now most of us would do never do such a thing. However, this poem gave us one of the greatest quotes in literary history. When translated from the original Burns wrote, the best line from his poem is "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry". The word "awry" there, means - off the track, amiss or just plain wrong.
The Bible warns us about plans and many of us can attest to the some of our own plans not turning out the way we, well, planned them! Every human being who ever lived has seen his or her plans fall apart, from time to time. We make mistakes. We are human. It is never a good idea for a Christian to go off under our own power, and then make plans to do this or that, especially in ministry. First of all, the ministry we are blessed to be called by the Lord to work in - is His! We do nothing on our own and did not get here in our own strength. We ride on the promise of the Lord to never leave us or forsake us. He has given us His love, blessing and Grace when He saved us and the rest is as the great radio talk show host says "talent on LOAN from God".
Plans to make plans can go awry when we are not right with God. Jesus told the parable in Luke Chapter 12 of the rich man, who apparently made NO plan for his eternal soul. This is a warning for those who think they have all the time in the world to get things right with God, seek His forgiveness and be saved. There is no time. No one knows the time and the hour of our departure from this life, which is loaned to us. Here is the parable:
Sadly, too many people live like this "fool" today in our constant pursuit of pleasure, leisure and entertainment. This goes for the millions who pack churches today for their one hour per week of "spiritual vaccination" and then go back to their own plans and notions.
How then shall we avoid the descent into eternal judgment, even if we think we are saved? The book of James tell us explicitly that we "ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." (James 4:15). This should be the second phrase out of our mouths each time we make a pronouncement, plan or decision.
In the Old Testament, the grandson of the great Abraham - Jacob - was one of the biggest schemers for most of his life. This is, until he wrestled with God and the Lord changed his name to Israel. Jacob robbed his brother Esau of his birthright and had to flee to his future even bigger schemer, father in law Laban, to save his life. After many years, Jacob and his now two wives, were heading out and he heard that Esau wanted to meet him. Jacob immediately began planning on how to save his family and flocks and entire wealth, actually, because he was, a planner.
The great writer C.H. Mackintosh wrote a great commentary on this incident and the lesson we should learn from it, about doing things in our own strength. It is presented here without comment, as it is written. It is just so good, it should be our creed going forward:
"Jacob's first thought was always a plan, and in this we have a true picture of the poor human heart. True, he turns to God, after he makes his plan, and cries to Him for deliverance; but no sooner does he cease praying than he resumes the planning. Now, praying and planning will never do together. If I plan, I am leaning more or less on my plan; but when I pray, I should lean exclusively upon God.
Hence, the two things are perfectly incompatible; they virtually destroy each other. When my eye is filled with my own management of things, I am not prepared to see God acting for me; and, in that case, prayer is not the utterance of my need, but the mere superstitious performance of something which I think ought to be done, or it may be, asking God to sanctify my plans. This will never do. It is not asking God to sanctify and bless my means, but it is asking Him to do it all Himself".