Billy's Blog
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October 31, 2017, 9:51 AM

Written in Pencil

It's been said that if you want to make God laugh tell him your plans. 

Life teaches us a lot of lessons, and one of the hardest ones to learn is that there is so little that we can control. It doesn't really matter how organized you are, how much you have written in your planner, it can all change in the blink of an eye. For some of us this is a paralyzing thought. With so little in our control how do we handle life? How do we handle all of this uncertainty? 

1. Be flexible

I love the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. Philip is going about his day and God tells him, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (Acts 8:26) So Philip goes and he runs into this man who is reading the Bible but doesn't understand what he's reading. Philip has this amazing encounter, baptizes him in roadside pond and moves on. When there's little that we can't control we have to be flexible. For some of us flexibility is not a problem, for others flexibility drives us crazy. 

You will miss out on some opportunities if you are not flexible. We all need to realize that our plans for the day may not match up with God's plans for us, and God's plans are always better. 

2. Let go of what you can't control

I've heard the phrase, "let go and let God", a million times but it doesn't get any easier. People throw that phrase around as if it were that easy. It's not. It's officially not. I can't control my children's decisions and it scares me. I can't control what decisions people in my church make and I worry for them and about them. I can't control everything with my health and that makes me a little nervous. But if I don't let go of what I can't control it will drive me crazy. 

Jesus gives some life-changing advice in Matthew 6:34 when he tells us not to worry about tomorrow, because today has "enough trouble of it's own." In other words, you and I have enough to deal with in the moment, it's a waste of time to worry about what we can't control. As you are reading this you might want to stop and write down all the things that you are worrying about that you can't control. You've got to let these things go. You might physically write this list and put it aside and just let God worry about these things. 

3. Be diligent with what you CAN do

You ever heard that old adage about how you eat an elephant? You eat it one bite at a time. 

No matter how big a thing you are facing in your life diligence is the key. If you have a lot of debt you can't pay it all off in one day or one week or one month, but you can start taking it down one day at a time. If your marriage is falling apart you can't fix it overnight. You can't fix years of dysfunction with one counseling session, but one kind word built upon another kind words starts building something positive. 

There are a lot of young pastors who want to start a church, because the idea of trying to turn around a dying church is not a very exciting notion. I've been told turning around a church is kind of like turning a ship in the ocean. It takes a lot of time and hard work and patience. You have to tackle it one bite a time just like that elephant. 

Paul gives some great wisdom in Galatians 6:9 that is amazing but also maddening. He tells us to not "grow weary in doing good." I know this is very easy to do. There's a lot of "doing good" that's really difficult. You talk to anyone that taught children, volunteered in the nursery, or been a part of a bus program and they know it's doing good, but it's not easy. Having a good marriage is "doing good", but it's hard work. Getting rid of debt is doing good, but it's really hard. Being healthy is doing good, but it sure hurts sometimes. 

Paul says that if we do not give up we will reap a harvest. That's the one condition...we can't give up. We have to keep taking those bites and eventually that elephant will be defeated. 

It's okay to have plans. Actually, it's not just okay we are instructed in Proverbs 16:3 to commit our plans to God so they will be successful. But we need to remember a few things about our plans...they must be written in pencil. We commit our plans to God, because many times he has better plans for our life than we do. We must be flexible, we must let go of what we can't control, and we must be diligent and not give up. 

This is a difficult recipe, but it's a great recipe for success in life. 

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