Written By Jasmine Ong, New Zealand
Three months ago, I began considering a move from a regional Australian town so I could live closer to my sister, Michele, who lives in a bigger capital city. Michele and I enjoy a very close relationship, and I was starting to feel lonely living apart from family in my small town.
Friends cautioned that the busy pace of city life and the high cost of living would result in my social isolation and financial ruin. Besides, many other siblings live separately from each other and thrive. However, if I absolutely must go, then I should begin job hunting immediately, as it could take six months or longer to find a new job in my particular industry.
I got started on job hunting right away. I frequently refreshed my job-hunting apps for newly advertised jobs. I manipulated my search criteria to yield more matches, scoured career blogs for tips on application writing and interviews . . . anything that would increase my chances of landing a new job in my new city. I also adhered to a strict budget to save up for three months’ living expenses in case I found myself unemployed. All of these activities involved serious planning and enormous effort.
This made me wonder whether my planning was an attempt to make things run according to my timeline, in my own strength . . . maybe even to wrestle control away from God. I wavered between two thoughts during this period. First, I wanted to be with my sister as soon as possible, and expected God to bless my unrelenting effort. Yet, I wondered if all this effort was necessary?
After all, if God wanted me to live closer to family, He would surely work things out, wouldn’t He? I’ve heard so many testimonies of how things simply fall into place because of the person’s strong faith—in those stories, it seemed like God did everything for the person short of boarding the airplane.
Should I have simply trusted that God would provide for me, and moved cities without working to plan ahead? Did my planning reveal an immature faith that doubted God’s provision? I was not sure how to strike a balance between trusting God while doing my part.
So I looked to the Bible to see how plans can be a part of our faith journey, and I found four helpful insights.
1. Planning uses our God-given abilities
God makes plans. In the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah writes to the Israelites in exile, “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11). Even though the Israelites were going through difficult times, God showed them that He had a bigger plan in mind for their futures.
God knows the future and is able to incorporate all our actions and choices into His grand plans. As beings created in His image, we can also think ahead and anticipate challenges. When we make plans for the future, we act like our heavenly Father.
2. Planning is wise
The book of Proverbs reminds us often to plan for the future. In one instance, the author exhorts the reader, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8).
The Bible clearly shows us that we will be better equipped to weather life’s storms if we plan and prepare for the future.
3. Planning can be an antidote to worry
Instead of worrying about the future in vain (Luke 12:25-31), we can prepare for it by planning and committing those plans to God.
As Proverbs 16:3 admonishes us, “Commit to the Lord, whatever you do, and He will establish your plans”. The noble wife described in Proverbs laughs without fear of the future, but only after waking at the crack of dawn to plan her day, which includes inspecting fields, planting vineyards, bringing food from afar, and sewing enough clothes for her household (Proverbs 31:10-31).
4. Planning can be an act of obedience to God
And then there’s the biblical account of Noah (Genesis 1:6-8), which describes Noah’s incredible faith and steadfast obedience to God’s command to build an ark. Noah, however, did an inordinate amount of planning—from building a seaworthy ark, to storing up enough supplies for all the animals and his family.
Scripture clearly shows us then, that planning our actions in order to obey God can demonstrate a reverent fear of God, rather than a lack of faith. In 2014, for example, I volunteered at a children’s home in rural China—this involved saving for the trip, arranging leave from work, learning Mandarin, and familiarizing myself with Chinese culture. Planning all of this enabled me to minister safely and effectively in the mission field.
The act of planning happens all throughout the Bible and is even encouraged. I was not wrong to plan, but there was something that I was missing.
Despite all the planning I did to ensure a smooth relocation, there were still many challenges that I faced. It was painful when my job applications were rejected, and it was difficult to say goodbye to friends I had made. It was frustrating when I could not find a suitable place to live. I spent too many nights replaying the scenes of a botched interview in my mind and wondering what it would be like to sleep rough on the streets for lack of suitable housing.
During these times, I needed the reminder of Proverbs 19:21, that though the plans in a person’s heart are many, it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. God’s purpose may not be giving me a specific job in a specific city, but I can trust that whatever happens, He works all things out in order that we may become more like Christ (Romans 8:28-29). So while I might find myself unemployed, lonely, and utterly disappointed, I can be comforted knowing that God’s purpose will prevail. That is a great promise worth persevering for.
This perspective on God’s purpose allowed me to let go of some of the stress over unfulfilled plans, and even find enjoyment despite the challenges. I did eventually find a job in my industry, as well as housing that enabled me to share a home with my sister, but there were other day-to-day challenges that I did not anticipate, such as adjusting to the new climate, transport systems, and accessing public services. However, navigating them helped me grow as a person, particularly in the areas of compassion and patience.
This entire experience taught me that while it’s good and wise to make plans, let’s also be ready to listen to God and accept His ways, even if they are different or contrary to the plans we’ve made. I pray that God will guide you and give you wisdom, courage, and peace as you make plans for your future!