Sunday, June 22, 2008

Planning and Goal-setting Redefined

Death speaks volumes and we tend to listen more carefully to our dear ones at the death than when they were alive. In the recent past, four deaths spoke to me powerfully. One is of my friend who died suddenly before reaching the fiftieth birthday. A man of full of plans, things lined up to do for God was suddenly called to glory. The other was the death of a two little children of my Sunday school aged eleven and nine years in a road accident. Their dad, a cousin and the cousin's granddad also died in the same accident. It was very painful to watch two kids and their dad aged just 38 lowered to the same grave in three coffins to be laid side by side. They had dreams, plans and aspirations for life, but God had different plans and none of us could question his plans nor should stop him doing what he willed for them.
I had to take a serious look at my life. I have plans, most of them are certainly things that I want to do for God. However, every planning requires some assurance of the span of time available. That is where the issue is. I but can't really have any definite plans until I know how much time I have. That is where the hitch is: I am not in charge of my lifespan. That is decided not by me but my creator, God.
Does that mean that I should not make any plans? Certainly not. Without plans my life will be disorganized, I will be without goals in life and eventually no achievements in life. I will be just floating aimlessly and then rust away. I need a plan for the day when I get up, that is what gives me reason to roll out of my bed every morning. I should achieve something before I go to bed, that is what gives me fulfilment in life. Many such days make up my months and many such months of planned, ordered and goal-oriented life should make up my life.
Actually, every one of us should have long-term plans. Goals to reach on a longer span of time: for a year, may be five-year plans, etc. Then these are broken up into smaller achievable goals for the months and days. However, when we make a five-year plan or even set goals for the current month, we should know that the month does not belong to us; even the given day!
We read in the Epistle of James (James 4:13), "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow let’s go into this city, and spend a year there, trade, and make a profit.' Whereas you don’t know what your life will be like tomorrow. For what is your life? For you are a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away."
When Apostle James penned these lines, he was not against planning and goal setting. He was not a pessimist at all. He then goes on to the next verse to tell us an important truth that our planning should also take account of the fact that all plans ought to be within the will of God. He continues in Verse 15, "For you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will both live, and do this or that.”" This type of conditional planning, that is plans surrendered to the supreme will of God is what God expects from those who love him. Such planning and goal setting accepts him as the author and sovereign over our life.

Being the light of the world

'You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that t...