Plan or purpose...

When the question of Mary or Martha comes up, my "lack of official list-making and list-completing" lands me, by default, in the Mary camp.

Since organization challenges me, when the question is posed, which is more important - plan or purpose?  Purpose often defeats plan - based solely on my own inadequacies.

For several months this past spring, the question of future seemed to permeate numerous conversations.  Mollie was graduating from college, then two weeks later, Clay was graduating from high school.  Where will you get a job?  Where have you applied for a job?  Where will you live?  What will you do if you don't get a job?  Where do you want to go to college?  What do you want to do with the rest of your life, or at least, what do you want to major in?

Mary, Martha, purpose or plan, the rest of Clay's and Mollie's lives... what's the connection?  Well let's add one more Biblical component:

Let's travel  to the Old Testament ... In the first chapter of Joshua, Moses had died; God commissions Joshua as the new leader for the people.    Joshua 1:6-7 offer specific intention:

 Be strong and courageous, 
for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 
Only be strong and very courageous...

...  So Joshua's purpose is clear... lead the Israelites into the land that God had promised to them, had planned for them and had purposed in them - God's redemption.  Keep in mind these descendants of Abraham had been enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. 

So what was the plan?   First order of business was to cross the Jordan River - which just happened to be at flood stage, then there was that seemingly impassable wall around Jericho, followed by numerous battles with God's miraculous intervention at every turn.  The plan continued to unfold as the purpose guided.

The purpose clearly dictated the plan.  Back in Joshua chapter 1, God's plan for Joshua was clear, 
I will be with you. 
I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid.
Do not be discouraged,
I, the Lord, will be with you wherever you go. 

Joshua's purpose, our purpose, is simply obey God without fear, without discouragement, WITH assurance that He will be with us, He will never leave us.

Clay now attends the University of Louisville.   Mollie has a job at the school she loves.  But for the two of them, and all the rest of us, the "what" is much less important than the "why" or maybe even the "Who".  

Interestingly... Frank and I have challenged each other a few weeks ago to revisit/reread Rick Warren's, The Purpose Driven Life.  The first line of the first chapter reads, "It's not about you." 

God's purpose will not be thwarted - we are reminded in Job 42.  (Don't you just appreciate the word, thwarted!?)

I just love the book of Philippians in the New Testament.  Paul's words are both powerful and challenging.  For me, Philippians chapter 2 gives us the clearest picture of our purpose.... to look to Christ as our perfect model, and follow his perfect example... ultimately ALL for and to the glory of God... how we act, how we talk, how we treat others... how we live every day.

Verse 13 ... "for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose."

So, then comes the plan.  For today... I so appreciate the simplicity of verse 14 that follows...

Do everything without grumbling or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.

Just like Joshua, our plan will unfold: sometimes with absolutely clarity.  More often, the plan comes as we take the first, then the second step in the direction that the PURPOSE directs.

I wish it all were a simple dot to dot or A, B, C - 1, 2, 3 -- but I am learning purpose trumps plan every time... and the LIGHT of the world will illuminate the path as I choose to obediently follow.

And friends, let's walk without grumbling... even when we don't understand the direction...

1 comment

  1. Susan, long time no see or hear! I was on Clay's Facebook today...he had popped up randomly on my homepage, and I wanted to see how he was doing. I came across your blog, and I needed this encouragement today. It was perfect. And I just wanted to tell you. Thank you for blessing my day with courage in the Lord.