Planning time

By Steve Sammons, 30 Mar 2020

Planning time

I love to plan, I love thinking about what the future holds and I love to think about what I’m going to do in light of that. And these things I’m going to do, I’ll be able to do because I’m organised enough to plan how I’m going to do them! Day to day this manifests itself in Bible teaching. I love to look ahead at what Bible teaching  I’m doing and plan how I’m going to do it and unfortunately, when I pull this off my self-confidence in my ability to plan is built up.

So, when something disrupts that I can get rather frustrated. Coronavirus has certainly disrupted plans, but by God’s grace, rather than experiencing frustration I’ve been taught something far greater. Proverbs 19:21 says:

‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.’ (NIV 1984)

Coronavirus has taught me that I can plan as much as I want, those plans may not prevail. Whether that be when myself and my fiancée get a house, what Bible teaching I’m doing, what I’m going to do on my Saturdays, all those plans are in my heart and therefore may not prevail because it’s the Lord’s purposes that prevail. This has been a wonderful reminder to rely on him and not myself and to cry out to him, ‘Not my will Lord, but yours be done.’ And these purposes are greater than mine, as the Lord says: ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ (Isaiah 55:9 NIV 1984) So, as a single person with lots of time, what are the Lord’s ways for me with this ample time? Well, let me fill you in, as they certainly are higher than mine!

A higher concern for my church family

With what is going on, there are challenges to everyone’s life and major concerns for some. This is certainly the case within our church family, and this feels like the first time in my Christian life where I’ve felt genuine concern for my whole church family. And what a blessing from God that many of these concerns can be helped in the matter of minutes by simply picking up a phone!

For as long as I can remember I’ve found making a phone call very much out of my comfort zone, certainly a ‘last resort’ kind of thing to do. It could be the phone company, a family member, or even a friend in a similar stage in life, I’d much rather email/instant message them. So, picking up the phone to call someone to see how they’re doing is not my default action in situations like this. But by the grace of God, it’s getting easier. The more I do it, the more comfortable I am with it, which means I feel comfortable doing it more. However, I could still do this more, so if you want to take the initiative to phone me, please do. This is a great lesson the Lord is teaching me, which I pray will have lasting impact in how I serve church in the future. I am grateful to God for how I’m finding this easier and for how it means I can show my concern for people in church and shape my prayers for them.

To help me with this, I have set myself the aim of speaking to 3 different households each day, could you do something a bit like this?

More time spent in prayer

This has happened for 2 reasons:

  1. I have more time!
  2. I see more clearly our dependence on God.

Whenever we see the frailty of humanity, it should heighten our understanding of God’s care for us. He sustains us in all things and we owe him all we have, and this should drive us to prayer as we recognise that all we have comes from him. 

C3 Central last Wednesday was a real wake up for me, though I may be spending more time in prayer, this should have been my first response, and in many ways it wasn’t. But what a great way to spend an evening - praying with my brothers and sisters as they each sit in their houses round Morecambe and beyond.

Practically this prayer has been in the bookmarks of my day: I’ve spent more time in the morning praying than I normally would and I’ve introduced a more intentional time of prayer in the evening before I go to sleep. The evening prayer wouldn’t normally happen as most of the time I just finish what I’m doing and then fall asleep. I’ve also had more time after my morning Bible reading to dwell on the word, as well as when I’ve finished talking to people on the phone.

What a fantastic grace of God to teach me to depend on him more in prayer – may this continue and grow all the days of my life!

Understanding it’s okay to rest

Having pondered Wednesday night’s C3 Central I felt convicted I’m an “Action Man”: my first response in a crisis is action. “Just do something” is a phrase that rings loud in my ears. However, in this situation we find ourselves, “Just do something” is becoming a harder and harder thing for me to do. There is only so much productivity I can produce. I can’t run around the church building looking busy and important, I can’t produce a piece of Bible teaching every week, I can’t help Gerry with many bits and pieces that need doing for church. But I can do something far greater: I can trust, pray and rest. 

For the first time since my unemployment I have a wealth of time on my hands and I no longer feel I need to use every single spare hour I’m not with people to get stuff done. And you know what? That’s okay! Because God is in control. God can use other people apart from me. God doesn’t need me to function. 

Rest is good because it shows God is God and I am not. I’m very grateful to God that I can rest at this time and I pray that I can glorify him in my rest. Through this crisis the Lord has taught me many useful things so far and I’m sure He’ll continue to do so. Though I may plan to do certain things and those plans may be good, God’s plans are better, let me finish with an encouraging message my fiancée sent me earlier this week:

‘Even if it feels a bit chaotic with life being churned upside down a bit, it’s amazing to know the God is still in control of the world and we have sure hope and security in Jesus amongst all the chaos.’


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