Before I moved, almost a year ago, I made a list of things I wanted to do (hobbies, Bible studies, reading, changing habits, etc) and a list of people I wanted to connect with on a regular basis since I was moving three hours away. (I apologize now if you were one of those people and I have not talked to you recently.) I wanted to build stronger relationships with my family so they were also on the list. I can tell you with exact precision the number of things on this list I have done since I moved 10 months ago: ZERO! I have not done any of them.
It is the same as when I go online, especially Pinterest. I find things I like, things I want to do, books I want to read, Bible study plans I want to follow, food I want to cook, things I find interesting that I want to look into further. Admittedly, there are a few more things on this list that I have done in comparison to the previous one.
With this blog, I started it with the intention of writing and posting something new every week. Recently, I have been a little lackadaisical. In fact, I think it has been almost 3 weeks since my last post. Why am I not following through on any of these things?
When it comes to following a new diet or trying to implement a healthy lifestyle, I am good for about 10-14 days then something happens, I don’t do what I say I am going to do, whether it be eating healthy, tracking what I eat or getting to the gym, and I throw in the towel. I quit until I try again.
I have good intentions. I want to improve in the area of personal development (hence the term personal development) but my follow through could use a little work. Okay, that is an understatement!
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. It is a common phrase. According to Wikipedia, (always a good source of information) there is a variation on the phrase: “Hell is full of good meanings, but heaven is full of good work.”
On Grammarist.com, when talking about this phrase, it states: Many people have a conscience that tells them what the right thing to do is in a given situation, but they give in to laziness or selfishness and do not follow through.
There is another way to look at this phrase. The intentions are good, the follow through is complete but the results are not so impressive. I read one article where they used the example of bringing Asian carp into North America, which is now invading the Great Lakes.
So what is your point, Janice?
My point is this. When you are making plans and lists, you need to ask yourself a few questions.
- Does this plan/list/task align with my values?
- Is this really a priority for me right now?
- Would important things be sacrificed if I do this?
- Is this something that would serve me better a few weeks or months from now?
- Does this align with what God has planned for me?
You will need to pray about these to get your answers, especially the last one.
There is a funny saying I heard a number of years ago.
“If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”
This is so true! I can be on my merry way, making plans and doing things that I want when all of a sudden God will put up a barrier that says – Nope, you are going to go this way now and do what I want you to do! Think about how often that really happens to you. And at first, you may be upset, annoyed or frustrated, but looking back you see exactly how it helped you to get you where are right now.
There are stories in the Bible that talk about God thwarting (never really used that word before) people’s plans.
Paul talks about this in II Corinthians 1:15-21. He specifically questions his intentions of visiting the people of Corinth twice while on his travels – on the way to Macedonia and on the way back. He says, “Was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make plans in a worldly manner…?” So how often do we do something because it is what we want, not necessarily what God wants?
Another example is in Jeremiah 18. God sent Jeremiah to the potter’s house. There he watched the potter turn clay on the wheel. The first pot made by the artist was flawed so he made a new one. The Lord warns Jeremiah that He can build up or destroy the people of Israel at any time, and will take into account the actions and intent of those actions before He makes a decision. God warns them of what could happen. The people of Judah and Jerusalem respond in a self-righteous manner: “We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.”
How often do we stubbornly follow our own plans and intentions, without giving way to what God’s plan for us is or what is healthy for us?
As you go forward in your plans, review your intentions and pray. Read Proverbs 16:1-9. It will give you guidance. Verse 9 is my favourite verse in this chapter.
Here’s the thing. God wants us to succeed. He wants to see us working on that personal development plan if it turns us into a better human being. At the same time, He seems to want it to be done on His terms, His way. Ultimately, that is not a bad thing, it may just seem like it in that moment when He is erecting that barrier. God’s ideas always work better than our own, we just need to listen and obey.
So when you are looking at your to-do list, your calendar, or even your bucket list, ask yourself if you are doing it because you want to do it or because God wants you to do it? You will need to pray about it first.
Share with me what is on your to do list that has been pushed to the side. If it lines up with God’s plan for you, how are you going to incorporate it?
Author’s Note: I am a big believer is seeing God move in small little ways. In my last blog, I talked about how I know what to do but I don’t do it when it comes to my weight and being healthy. Two days later, I received an email about a Christ-centered way to live a healthy lifestyle that was different than what I had done in the past. What made me pay attention was the title of her email post: Stop saying you know what to do if you’re not doing it!
This was almost the exact phrase I used only days before. I ended up signing up for the program and am on Day 11. So far so good. I am praying I can keep up the momentum.