How My Best Plan Can Lead Me Down the Wrong Track


I believe deep in my heart that without a plan, a roadmap, a schedule or a checklist for my day, I will be lost and get NOTHING done. I’m easily distracted. I get off track. And huge chunks of time seem to evaporate if I don’t pin them down in my planner. So I plan.

Planning makes me feel productive and responsible. But if my map is turned upside down, even my best-laid plans will take me down the wrong track.

Maybe your day looks something like mine:

  • I wake up in the morning with a list of everything I need to do running through my brain. Along with several ideas for how to get it all done.
  • Obediently I head to my quiet time where I share this list with God. (Unless the list is especially long and I must start on it immediately. Then I quickly add “talk to God about the stress I’m under” to the bottom of my list for later.)
  • I ask for his blessing on my ideas for accomplishing the most important tasks and for peace and wisdom to let the rest go.
  • I ask him to multiply my time so I can finish as much of this freshly blessed holy work today as possible.
  • Lingering for another moment or two, I ask that he guide and protect me while I’m out in the world crushing my goals for Him.
  • And then I’m off. Feeling secretly pleased with my willingness to “surrender” my day to God. And kind of great about my commitment to being productive. Faith without works is dead after all.

My plan is upside down because it starts with the ending I want: To accomplish my goals and check off as many items on my list as possible.

It’s as if I’m laying down a track next to God’s where I’m running alongside Him. I stay on my side getting everything done. He stays on His side smiling with approval. Lending me a hand or word of encouragement or timely protection if I happen to need it. But I’m confident that my plan is solid, so if He needs to turn off for a bit or slow down to go help someone else, He could probably leave me to my own devices. We can meet up later and review my progress. Maybe even get to talk about that stress issue I penciled in earlier. At the end of the day, I’ll fold up my map with its unfinished business and begin thinking about the new one I’ll draw for tomorrow when it all begins again.

The problem is that God doesn’t want to start where I want to end. He wants to start at the beginning.

My surrendered to-do list is not enough. He wants me to surrender myself. All of me. To be available. And ready to act. A nearly impossible feat when I run on my own track, clutching my map tightly in my hand, eyes on the prize of having a productive day.


I’m not available for interruptions so I miss the opportunity to comfort my neighbor who just lost her job. I miss the chance to encourage my co-worker who is struggling in her marriage. I barely notice the moment when my son wants to share the news of his day with me.

I’m not ready to act – unless the action is on my carefully crafted to-do list. So I don’t respond to requests for help from tired young parents or drop what I’m doing to pray for someone I don’t know.

My plan for getting through the day becomes my hiding place.

I can keep my head down, checking off items, believing I’m on the right track, doing the important work God and I agreed on this morning. And I completely miss the needs all around me. Sometimes my focus keeps me from seeing those needs. Other times, I convince myself that those needs must be on someone else’s list, because they’re not on mine. So I miss moments to serve beyond my comfort zone and I miss the blessings God has for those who do. I miss the trip God wants me to take.

What if my first prayer in the morning was this: “Lord, this day belongs to you. Please show me where you are going today and take me with you.”

Scary. No schedule. No agenda. No map. Just Him working in me and through me as we move together along the same track – His track – throughout the day.

My responsibility and plans narrow down to this: Saying yes to God’s invitation for the two of us to travel together. Being available and ready for action wherever He takes me.

What is God inviting you to surrender so you can travel with Him today?

“Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:11

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  1. I’ll be sharing this week! Thanks for this beautiful word.

    1. Thanks for reading Alicia!

  2. I almost laughed out loud at the truth of this. You are so wise.
    My day planner is glued to me everyday and that is my exact prayer time in the AM.
    ONE OF MY FAVORITE truisms that I struggle with everyday: “Let go and let God”
    Thanks again, Jody

    1. It is so much easier said than done, isn’t it? And I find I need to keep giving my agenda back to God throughout the day because I’m so tempted to try to take back control, again and again, even when I’ve made the commitment not to. Thankfully, His patience with us is never ending!

  3. Lorraine W. Murphy says:

    Full of great wisdom, Jody. Never have thought like this — always on my own “to-do list”,
    which somehow always feels like the exact right one.
    Thank you once again for pulling me up by my boot straps to “wake up’!

    Love and blessings to you and yours,

    1. Thank goodness we all have those boot straps when we need them! So glad you found some encouragement in my words this week, Lorraine!

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