As I wound up praying with a friend at our routine weekly prayer meetings, she asked me, “is there any prayer request you have, and you’ll like us to pray about?”. I mused for ten seconds and at first began by saying there was nothing, before I remembered that there was something – I did not have any “concrete” plans for 2021 and I wanted us to pray to God for direction for my life. As soon as we finished praying, my friend told me she also prayed the same prayer point for herself. She recounted a recent conversation with her mentor asking her questions about her plans for the year, and she moaned about babbling throughout the conversation and feeling foolish about the uncertainty she felt for the year. I felt semi-happy – and thought to myself, “at least, I am not the only one who is unclear in this life”.
Last year, I had gotten a shiny new white moleskine notebook I earmarked for writing important things this year. In the first few days of 2021 I had managed to scribble about 16 things I would do before the end of the year. However, I could not shake the feeling of unfulfillment I felt about the plans. They seemed too easy, too achievable, unspectacular and I felt no sense of purpose attached to the plans. I had written them on a whim, in a desperate move to think I had my life under control, and I knew the next steps for me. Furthermore, at the background of my mind was a conversation I had a few months ago with another friend where he asked me if it was even scriptural to have a long list of plans for any year. The conversation was hinged on the scripture from James 4:13 – 15:
Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.
And so, following the admonishing in the above scripture, what I ought to say is if the Lord wants me to – I will do the 16 things on my list. But the big question was really, how I would know what the Lord wants me to do – the crux of my prayer request. I scanned through the bible for scriptures on plans and purposes, but it seemed in all cases, the initiator of the plans was always God. In no scripture, did I see anything like people bringing their own thoughts and plans and then submitting the plans to God after fact. Job 22: 21, 27, 28 provides some additional insights on how to go about plans and purpose:
Submit to God, and you will have peace; then things will go well for you. Listen to his instructions and store them in your heart. You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows to him. You will succeed in whatever you choose to do, and light will shine on the road ahead of you.
So, I have set aside my 16 goals for now. I will go back to God, submit myself to God and listen to what he will have me do per time and every day. And whatever he tells me, I will do and trust him to shine his light on it.