Why We Plan

It has been fun reading a little fiction these past couple of weeks in the form of a sci-fi novel. Actually, The Martian, has been a beautiful novel in which I have commiserated with lead protagonist Mark Watney in the effect of being isolated during this pandemic. Fortunately, I’m not trying to survive through absolutely awful planetary travel and I’ve not been completely alone and unable to communicate with greater society.

Yet, a few themes got tied together as I read the novel and was listening to the 140th episode of my favorite podcast Lore entitled, “Potential”. In the episode Aaron Mahnke sets the stage by explaining the reasoning behind our human efforts to plan. He describes it so eloquently in his episode’s intro (so please go and listen), but for now I’ll butcher it and summarize it here for digestibility: We plan because we hope.

It is so distinctly human isn’t it…

We all plan to some extent…even us anti-planners! Even us who describe ourselves as extemporaneous in our living! Even those of us desperate to “unplan”…still plan, even when we are not thinking. We are planning (hoping) for the unexpected…planning (hoping) for an adventure of the uncharted kind. Yet, even such dreaming is still “planning” or better said as hoping.

I’ve been reminded of this throughout the novel, The Martian. Here’s an excerpt from his first of many planning sessions in p. 10-11:

 “I’ve been thinking about how to survive this. It’s not completely hopeless. (Mark ponders various options and details…)

So that’s my mission now. Find a way to communicate with Earth. If I can’t manage that, find a way to communicate with Hermes when it returns in four years with the Ares 4 crew.

Of course, I don’t have any plan for surviving four years on one year of food. But one thing at a time here. For now, I’m well fed and have a purpose: fix the damn radio.”

Again, Mars throws the kitchen sink and everything in it at Mark as he plods along the novel fixing one broken machine after another or facing off against another dust storm. Yet, he continues planning after each setback and therefore continues finding hope for living another day.

What interests me about planning is that not only is it human to plan, but it is a direct reflection of the Lord we worship. This should not come as a surprise to us right? I mean we are made in the image of our creator. Yet, this did not finally hit home for me till I began to use my Strong’s Concordance and look at truly the sheer number of references the Lord makes in the Bible to his plan for us.

Here’s just a few of those verses that drew wonderment out of me:

Psalms 138:8 – The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Psalms 33:10 -11 – The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.

Acts 2:23 – This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

Proverbs 16:3 – Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

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 hope and a future.

Wow, what powerful encouragement for times such as these. Last night I stood starring up at the star-filled sky, washed in an overwhelming sense of joy and peace, that of which I’ve struggled some days to find. Yet, I was reminded in that moment of beholding the night sky filled in glory, that if our father could create this awe-inspiring universe, then why should I doubt for a moment the great plans he has in store for me, my family, and our world. As I sat there contemplating these thoughts this is the prayer that sprang forth:

Father, let your plans overwhelm our own. Let your will be done in your perfect timing. Allow us to be used as instruments in the fulfillment of your plans for your glory. Thank you for providing for our needs, our health, and our joy. Amen.  

Friends, as always thanks for reading and growing with me; take heart in this journey. We are never given more than we can bear, but if we ever feel that sense, lean into love and we will discover comfort. Take care my friends!

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