December 31, 2010

A Plan To Get A Plan

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It’s New Year’s Eve! Time for joy and laughter and preparing for football.  Oh wait, through last night there have already been 18 BOWL GAMES!  There are 4 more today, 6 tomorrow, and then 7 after that.  35 BOWL GAMES in total!  Of course we’re looking forward to the big one this year – Sugar Bowl – where the Hogs face the Buckeyes.

But this is also a time of reflection.  We think back on this last year – the good times, the bad times, the in-between times.  What worked well, what didn’t work so well, what is still a work-in-progress.  And we look forward to next year – what are our dreams and goals and desires for the future. 

I would like to layout an outline for “planning” (Note 1) – a plan to get a plan – and then tell the story behind it.  Here it is:

  1. Accept the challenge to plan.
  2. Examine the alternatives.
  3. Pray for guidance.
  4. Make a plan, leaving room for God to operate.
  5. Submit the plan to God.
  6. Wait and watch events unfold.
  7. Be thankful for the answered prayers.
  8. Explain the situation to concerned parties.
  9. Refuse unnecessary delay.
  10. Follow through with the entire plan.

Seems to make sense, right?  Is that consistent with how you plan?  Most of my plans fall short in any number of those steps, but most consistently in Step 4, “leaving room for God to operate”. If my plan includes actions that are all well within my own reach and within my own comfort zone, how does success bring glory to God?  How does pursuit of that success keep me close to God and reinforce that I need to look to Him every day and throughout every day?

The story behind the plan to get a plan?  That comes from Genesis 24 and it was lived out by Eliezer, the most trusted servant of Abraham.  When it came time for Isaac to get married, Abraham called on Eliezer to find Isaac a bride from Abraham’s homeland (not from among the Canaanite women, with whom they lived).  Eliezer did as his master asked and returned with Rebekah, who became Isaac’s wife.  The Scripture tells us how he developed and lived out his plan:

1.  Accepted the challenge
Verse 3: “I want you to swear … that you will get a wife for my son not from the daughters of the Canaanites … but will go to my country and my own relatives a get a wife for my son Isaac.”
Verse 9: “So the servant [Eliezer] … swore an oath to him [Abraham] concerning this matter.”

2.  Examined the alternatives
Verse 5: [Eliezer asking] “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me … ?  Shall I then take your son back to the country … ?

3.  Prayed for guidance
4.  Made a plan, left room for God to operate 
5.  Submitted the plan to God
Verses 12-14: “Then he [Eliezer] prayed, ‘O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today … See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water.  May it be that when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’ – let her be the one you have chose for your servant Isaac.  By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”

6.  Wait and watch events unfold
Verse 21: [After meeting Rebekah and putting the plan in motion] “Without saying a word, the man [Eliezer] watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey succcessful.”

7.  Was thankful for the answered prayers
Verse 26: [After Rebekah’s responded exactly as Eliezer had prayed and he learned she was from Abraham’s family]  “Then the man [Eliezer] bowed down and worshiped the Lord, saying, ‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham …”

8.  Explained the situation to concerned parties (v34-49)
Verse 34-49: [In v34-48, Eliezer tells Abraham’s relatives why he is there, starting with, “I am Abraham’s servant” and telling of all the events that led up to him finding the relatives and Rebekah leading him to them; and now he wondered if they would send Rebekah home with him to marry Isaac] 49: “Now if you will show kindess and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.”

9.  Refused unnecessary delay
Verse 56: [After Rebekah’s father, Bethuel, and her brother, Laban, acknowledged the events were orchestrated by God and agreed that Rebekah could go with him, Eliezer was anxious to return to Abraham.  But Laban and his mother wanted Rebekah to stay with them for ten days]  “But he [Eliezer] said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the Lord has granted success to my journey.  Send me on my way so I may go to my master.”

10.  Followed through with the entire plan
Verse 66-67: [Rebekah agreed to go with Eliezer and they left to join Abraham.  Upon arriving, and learning who Isaac was, Rebekah covered herself with a veil and went to him] “Then the servant [Eliezer] told Isaac all he had done.  Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah …”

I’m inspired by the story from 1914 BC (note 2) and how we can apply this “plan to get a plan” to 2011 AD.  Wanna try it?

     Loving the Journey,


Note 1: From the Life Application Study Bible (NLT)

Note 2:

Note 2:

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