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Proverbs 16:9

A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps. (KJV)

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. (NLT)

***Warning: This begins with a 5 paragraph narrative and won’t really get to the point until later. If you want, you can skip to the *END OF THE NARRATIVE* bolded below. But if you’re up for some fun, read on.

On January 1, 2021, I experienced my first ever virtual gift exchange. My family and I devised a plan to each secretly mail a gift to another family member and open our gifts live on Zoom. Yep, we had our very own secret san— I mean our “Saved and Sanctified” gift exchange 🤫. It was fun, creative and…. Probably the worst year to plan sending gifts via mail (apologies USPS for contributing to the most stressful delivery season to date).

I’m proud to say I was able to use my programming skills to create a simple, but effective solution and keep all gifters and giftees anonymous up to the very moment of opening. It was the perfect plan and the programming executed flawlessly.

Now, of course my embellishment above means things didn’t go flawlessly. If you’ve developed any plan ever, you know there is almost an endless list of things that can go wrong. But I was pretty optimistic this time around. I tested the program a few times and said “let’s go!”

Well as I said, this was NOT the most ideal year to send gifts. Yet to my surprise, everyone in the gift exchange got their gift on time… except me (surprise 😂). So I created the program, tested it all, setup the Zoom call, and… I have no gift to show for it. At our gift opening, my sister informed me the gift had been ordered and shipped several weeks in advanced – it just got sent to my brother’s address and was now on it’s way from his house. A mix up at the post office was definitely NOT in my plan.

Not to leave me absolutely in the dark, she offered to send me a picture via text message of my inbound gift. To maintain the suspense, I was to have my wife zoom as far in on the image as she could and I would slowly zoom out on the image to reveal…. My BRAND NEW WIRELESS PHONE CHARGING HEADPHONE STAND.


Okay, so if you’re just joining us (and skipped the narrative), here’s the point. First, I can say with all honesty I’m rarely upset when things like the event above go unexpectedly, and this was no exception. The fun and warmth felt was not any less meaningful or lifeless because I had no (physical) gift in hand.

Every situation we encounter has meaning that can be missed when we’re zoomed in too close.

As a software engineer, you can learn to deal with a reasonable amount of “bugs” in your code. This is because the bigger picture is many times more important. If you spend all your time looking at the ant on the ground, how would you see the rest of the forest.

Thinking this way, Proverbs 16:9 above then reveals a new meaning. The scripture is not to say that making plans don’t matter since our steps are ordered by God. What I believe it says is that at some point we have to move on from just “planning” and put complete trust in the steps God will allow us to take.

Imagine if our family just planned a gift exchange, but then got so hung up on the details that we waited until a week before to send our gifts. Not only would my gift not have made it, but likely no one’s gift would have arrived, changing a fun and happy family moment to a failed memory. Or imagine if I stayed zoomed in on the picture of the gift — I’d just think I received some nice black pixels and had no idea what gift was in store for me.

God allows us to use our minds to make plans, but he also gives us arms and legs to move and take action. With the movements will come imperfections and outward resistance not seen in our original plans. It’s those moments, however, that we can realize the trust in his word — that he will and does direct our steps. Sometimes they’ll line up perfectly with our plan. Other times they will lead us to an unplanned failure. But if we put our faith in Jesus, he will ALWAYS lead us to where we were meant to go.

So take some time to zoom out from your plans and zoom in to God’s word. Be reminded he will never leave, nor forsake you (Deut. 31:6). Remember that in him all things were created (Col. 1:16). Know that tomorrow will take care of itself (Matt 6:34). God will direct your steps (Prov. 16:9). Once you realize that, you can move without worry and love any outcome. Be confident that God has you covered from head (your plans) to toe (your steps).

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Have a blessed week!