I know many of us love to plan. I definitely tend to be a planner. We like to feel like we have everything all figured out. Some of my friends when I was in junior high school (middle school) had already decided who they would marry, how many children they would have (even how many would be boys or girls), what the children’s names would be, where they would live, where they would work, what kinds of cars they would drive, etc… It feels comforting to us to think we know what is going to happen. To feel like we have control and maybe security in this crazy world.
But is this really how life works?
The truth is we couldn’t see the future when we were in 7th and 8th grade – and we still can’t see it now! We couldn’t predict that some of us had fathers whose jobs would be relocated. We couldn’t foresee that some of the guys we thought were amazing at the time were headed for serious trouble. We didn’t know about the wonderful new guys we would meet in other places and all of the roads the Lord would lead us down. None of us correctly predicted anything in our lives. None of our junior high school plans came true. And that is okay! In fact, it is a very good thing that they didn’t. God certainly knew better than we did.
The Bible has something important to say about our making plans for the future:
- Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4: 13-17
We don’t know the future. Only God does. We can make tentative plans as we seek to follow Jesus, but we are not acting rightly if we make elaborate plans according to our will and we don’t take into account God’s sovereignty and His will for our lives. And we are not acting rightly if we don’t leave room in our expectations for Him to act. The truth is, our plans don’t give us security or control. There is so much that is completely out of our control.
Real security only comes when we trust God and His sovereignty.
I am familiar with a number of single women who make elaborate – sometimes irreversible – plans for themselves. The problem is – if you are dating a man and you have your own plans set in concrete, how is your guy supposed to fit into the plans? How can he lead if you already have your mind made up about everything in advance? If you begin dating a guy and you are interested in marriage but then you have no interest in hearing his dreams, his ideas, or what he believes the Lord may be leading him to do, how can he lead you?
Eventually, a godly man may feel crowded out by a woman’s plans that have no room for him and his loving, humble, servant-leadership.
Are you willing to be patient and wait on the Lord? Are you willing to listen to your potential husband’s ideas and leave room for flexibility? You don’t have to submit to a man to whom you are not married. But there should be a process of discovering his personality, his hopes, his dreams, his God-given calling, and allowing him to help shape any plans for the future. You get a voice, but he also needs to have a voice. Once you are married as believers in Christ, he will have positional authority in God’s design for marriage and you will have influential authority. (For more about God’s design for spiritual authority for believers in every area of our lives, please check out this post.) God will call you both to the same place and once you are married, He will lead you through your husband in many ways. You will need to be prepared to follow your guy to wherever he believes the Lord is leading, if the two of you don’t agree.
I know it can feel uncomfortable to have to live in uncertainty for a long time. Many of us would rather just do something – anything – to feel like we have some control rather than to wait. But if your desire is to be married to a godly man and you would like him to be able to lead in the marriage, there has to be space for a godly man to lead in your life. And even if you remain single, there has to be space in your life, mind, and heart for God to lead in ways you can’t predict and don’t expect. Living for Jesus is a big adventure. Each day brings new anticipation of the surprises He may have in store, new things to learn, and new depths of His love to experience. We can shut out some very good things from God if we are set on our plans and our will or if we take things into our own hands to try to force things to happen our way.
This will mean several things:
- Make sure your plans are flexible. Hold things of this world loosely.
- Don’t rush into things (out of impatience) way ahead of God and way ahead of marriage. Be sure that you are following the Spirit’s leading and prompting.
- Don’t push or rush your guy.
- Be open to God leading in new ways you don’t expect. Lay down your desires and dreams and let God lead in what He knows is best.
- Be open to a godly man who is interested in being your husband leading in new ways you don’t expect (if he is living for Christ Himself and not leading you into sin).
- Be willing to embrace whatever calling your potential husband believes God has on his life.
- Don’t let anything become an idol – dating, engagement, a wedding, marriage, children, a certain city, a specific house, a certain job, a certain plan.
Real romance exists because we don’t know what is going to happen. We don’t have our plans set in concrete. We let our men lead us. We let them surprise us. We are open to their wisdom, ideas, gifts, and perspectives. One of the most beautiful things about femininity is being a gracious receiver. We receive God’s leading with joy. We receive our husband’s leading with joy. We receive the surprises and plans God has and our men have for us. Of course, we can share our valuable input, desires, feelings, concerns, and ideas. We have a voice, too. But the dynamics are so much better for everyone when we don’t try to force our agenda and we are open to many possibilities.
Would you like to share about how you have made plans in the past and what happened? Or maybe something that the Lord has shown you about this topic?
God’s “No” Is a Gift, Too – by Olivia