When my plans suddenly change for the better, or I see something extraordinary behind a decision, I state: “We make plans, God directs our steps.” That statement is paraphrased from Proverbs 16:9.
It seems as I make decisions about my daily schedule, God tweaks it as needed so I don’t misstep. I first made note of this as a new Christian, asking God for direction about whether to enroll in a creative writing extension class at the University of California, Davis. When I didn’t hear from the Lord, I pulled a credit card from my wallet and registered. Shortly after the decision I received a call from the registrar who informed me the class had been canceled because not enough people enrolled. God had answered my prayer for direction.
More recently my brother sent me a text asking if I would switch weeks with him providing care for Mom on her caregiver’s days off. Although I had to cancel a couple appointments, I was able to help him out. Had we not switched weeks I would have been exposed to COVID and quarantined on the Saturday I was to attend a Christian women’s conference. It seemed my planned week had been changed by God for my protection.
I have learned to hold my plans lightly not insisting on my way but eager for God to orchestrate my steps.
This week I am contemplating this Bible verse, mulling it over for deeper meaning, a more solid understanding. I printed the verse from various Bible versions:
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” ESV
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. NLT
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.” HCSB
The “heart” in the original language of the text is our “feelings, will, and intellect.” The planning is to “plot or contrive. To think, regard, or compute.” Our “way” is our course of life or an action to take. To establish or direct is to “render sure, proper or prosperous.”1
I think a key element of this verse is the heart, what is the status of our heart when we make a decision? Is it obstinate and self-focused, wanting its way, or soft and pliable eager to do things God’s way.
I focus on the heart because Proverbs 16:3 seems to provide the direction needed for established steps, those orchestrated by the Lord. It reads: “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” ESV
A devotion I read on Proverbs 16:3 explained that when we commit our activities to the Lord, we hand them off “deciding through prayer what our steps should be, and running them through the grid of God’s Word, discovering if they are in keeping with what would please him.”2
So, we run our plans past God in prayer and by reflecting on Scripture that might be applied to the decision. Then we know our plans will be established. This is where I see God tweaking them for our benefit.
The other day I was ecstatic when I learned I could leave my mother’s house on Friday the week I will cover the day’s off for the caregiver in October. I committed for three days as needed, but my sister said she would cover one making it possible for me to attend a wedding on Saturday. My sister didn’t know there was a wedding, I had not asked. I just committed this activity to the Lord.
I planned my way, but the Lord established my steps.
1-How do you see God directing your steps as you seek him?
2-Do you have a favorite Scripture that helps you make wise decisions? Share it in the comments below!
1-Greek/Hebrew word definitions, Biblesoft One Touch software.
2-“Trusting God in All the Things, 90 Devotions for Finding Peace in Your Every Day” by Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk, devotion 44 “If This, Then That.” Published by Bethany House Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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