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The best direction when making plans

what a little robin taught me

I’m sure she thought it was a good idea.  It looked safe, she had done things like this before and it had worked out.

Why should she wonder if this time it would not be safe?

But I could tell.  From my vantage point – it was not a good idea.

A robin built her nest on a low branch in our yard. It was tucked well into crook of the tree, secure from wind and rain.  In theory it should work.

But that tree sits close to the sidewalk and sees high school students daily as they walk past to the school next door.

For weeks the nest sat empty and I thought – hoped – the robin would see the current conditions around her and find a new place to roost.

Then one day my daughter comes running to tell me of a surprise she found.

Two beautiful blue robin’s eggs.

My heart sort of sank.  I did not have high hopes of their survival.  I gently warned our kids to not disturb the nest and to leave the eggs alone.

But I had no way of telling those kids who walk past on the sidewalk.

The eggs lasted a whole day.

When I discovered the wreckage, I cried. I cried for that mama robin who would come back to find no babies to warm. I know they were just birds and that there are millions more where they come from. But this small loss for this mama bird still pricked my heart.

And it also gave me pause for the lesson it holds.

a lesson from a bird

How often do we forge ahead with something, convinced we are doing the right thing? We think we can see all the pieces at play and tell ourselves that we are choosing the right path.  We say a quick prayer, thinking there is now a blessing attached to our plan.

Meanwhile, God is shaking His head and thinking “Why is she building her nest there?”

“Why is she placing her trust in that?  Something that is doomed to fail and not last?”

In the scenario with the robin, I could see the bigger picture. I could see the different factors at play and could even provide her with better opportunities. If only I could have communicated to the robin that if she would have just built her nest higher in the tree or further away from the sidewalk, her eggs may have turned out differently.

If only we would stop and listen to God’s leading, instead of forging ahead with our own thoughts, ideas, and perceptions.

Because He can see the bigger picture – we can’t.

In James’ letter to the twelves tribes scattered abroad, he wrote:

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.‘”  (James 4:13-15)

what James has to say

We follow after our own pride when we believe we have total control over the events of our own lives and assume that the plan we’ve laid out is better than what God wants for us. We want to control the timing, the how much, the how often, and the where. Before we even realize it, we turn our back on trusting God and place our trust in our own knowledge instead. We build our nest in the crook of a low hanging branch and convince ourselves that our plan is best.

How often do we flit around, building our nest and making our plans. How much of our time and energy is put into settling our wings, resting on the branch, and listening for God’s direction and His plan for us?  

True humility means recognizing our limitations. We really don’t know everything about the future. Even our best planning is still subject to God’s will.1

Instead of building our nest where we want and when we want – what should we do instead?

Slow down. As humans, we often tell ourselves that everything needs to happen now. When in reality, the best things take time.

Pray. We often think about things, ruminating it over and over in our minds. But how often do we take it to God in prayer? This is more than just asking God for what we want – it’s delving into scripture and getting to know the heart of God. When we know God’s heart, we can ask appropriately.

Seek advice from wise, experienced family and friends. So often, the lived experiences of others is gained knowledge that can be passed on to the next person going through the same decision-making process. After you’ve spent time with God, spend time with wise, godly counsel.

Wait for the Spirit’s prompting. It may be a door opening or a door closing – a new path revealed or the encouragement to continue where you are at. The plan will present itself when we are desiring to walk in God’s timing and His will – and when we remember that His plan is always better than ours.

When we seek after God’s will and want His best, He will always come through and provide. If we follow the above steps then we can make a decision confidently saying, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.

Your turn: When have you seen this process play out in your own life? What are some small, intentional steps you can make today to move confidently in the direction God has led you to?

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