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  • Shawn Thornton

We Plan, God Laughs

Friday - March 5th

Devotionals from the Book of James

Scripture to Read Today: James 4:11-17

What you ought to say is, "If the Lord wants us to,

we will live and do this or that."

Otherwise, you are boasting about

your own pretentious plans,

and all such boasting is evil.

James 4:15-16


Thirty-two years ago today, I asked Lesli to marry me. The elaborate, romantic plan I had laid out for the moment I would get down on my knee and present her with a diamond ring did not go the way I planned at all. Lesli and I were seniors in college, and spring break was approaching. Over the course of our previous three years of dating, we had specific travel patterns on such breaks. My elaborate plan to ask Lesli to marry me meant I had to radically change our way of visiting my parents and her parents.


After telling Lesli about the radical departure from our norm, she wanted to know why I made the change. In my enthusiasm for my secret engagement plan, I had not anticipated her simple question. I told her I did not want to say why. She pressed further. So, I made up some story. My story just made the whole thing worse. My failure to communicate what we were doing clearly to Lesli caused us to have a bit of a tense disagreement.


Knowing how much she would like the results of my disruptive spring break plans, I foolishly started laughing when Lesli kept pressing for a why. Of course, it hurt Lesli that I laughed at her. By the end of that day (a few days before our spring break started), I had to go to plan B. I quickly located a place where we could talk in private on campus, got down on a knee, and popped the question. Her serious face of frustration transformed into a big smile as I explained asking her to marry me was the reason behind our changed plans. She immediately said, "Yes!"


We were married fourteen months later, on June 30, 1990. And we have lived happily ever after! Enjoy the photo on this page that we had taken soon after our engagement in the spring of 1989.


Every time I read James 4:15-16, I think about how my plans were not as airtight as I thought. We should always remember that our best plans can quickly change. Various variables entirely out of our control can disrupt our best intentions. When we think we control the outcome, we get arrogant. We forget God may have other plans for us. "Lord willing" should always accompany our planning. When we don't, we only set ourselves and others up for frustration.


Whenever my great, fool-proof plans get disturbed, I think of the old Yiddish proverb, "We plan, God laughs." As you make decisions and plans this week, avoid an arrogant, controlling attitude. Whisper to yourself, "Lord willing!"


We must make our plans with open, not closed hands. We can say we will do this or that "Lord willing."

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