Of Plans and Planning

Of Plans and Planning

“…But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!”

From: ‘To a Mouse’ by Robert Burns.

I don’t always cope that well when my plans go awry. Like Robert Burns, I tend to dwell on the perceived failure, and dread what future mishaps might unfold!

However, a failed plan does not make a failure of a person. A failed plan usually just means we need a new plan. And if we can bear to be a little more like the mouse, staying in the present and pressing on, we might find that the new plan is far better than the old one.

James 4:13-15 also warns us not to place too much hope in the plans we make:

‘ 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.” ‘

We can see how Paul lived out this attitude when we read through Acts. One good example is in Acts 16.

Paul started to journey one way, but the Spirit did not allow him to go on. So he started to journey another way. Again he was stopped. These were not small journeys that he planned. He was moving between cities and countries. He had to think through what provisions he needed, how much he could carry, where he might stop along the way – all without the convenience of cars and aeroplanes!

How did the Spirit stop him from going one way or another? Was it a quiet inner nudge, or did circumstances simply become so difficult that he could not go on? We’re not actually told.

Regardless, Paul did not stop trying. He wanted to share the good news of Jesus, so he kept journeying, until he discovered where the Lord wanted him. He tried South and then North. Doors closed. So next he headed West to Traos, and while he was there he had a vision of a man from Macedonia calling for help. He decided to board a ship and head there.

When he reached Macedonia, he very quickly met Lydia, who, along with others in the city, became a Christian. Though the journey was not straight forward, Paul finally got to where he needed to be, and saw much success in his ministry.

This has been a very encouraging thought for me. It can be so frustrating when things we’ve spent time and energy planning don’t work out. Whether it is a lesson, a curriculum, a trip, a holiday, an event, or even an area of ministry. This is something that does and will happen to us all again and again.

Plans will inevitably go awry. It doesn’t mean we were wrong for making them. We just shouldn’t put too much weight on their apparent success or failure.

Ultimately, God has a good plan for our lives, which can’t be thrown off track by anything. He is not surprised when obstacles come our way, they are all part of his bigger, better, plan for us.

‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.’ Proverbs 19:21


Our first history topic this school year was the ‘Age of the Explorers‘. The perseverance and courage of some of those early sailors is quite remarkable, especially given how frequently their plans went awry.

One book we all particularly enjoyed reading was ‘You Wouldn’t want to Sail with Christopher Columbus’ which we found in our local library. It is full of comedy and illustrated well, so it appealed to all the ages.

We’ve also been reading through the book ‘Explorers who got Lost’ by Diane Sansevere-Dreher, which has been a great way to introduce the children to some of the famous explorers, and their struggles.

However, with only a few black and white pictures, it was not as engaging for our youngest daughter, as it was for our older boys. Encouragingly though, she seemed to want to be around to listen, as we read through it.

Reading chapter books together always seems rewarding, but it is not that straight forward with children of different ages. It takes a lot of trial and error!

We’ve tried drawing/colouring while reading, sitting around a fire together, taking turns reading chapters, even building Lego models.

Different strategies seem to work at different times, depending on the mood of the children and how much energy I have!

If anyone has any more ideas, particularly for engaging/occupying the younger children during this time, please comment below!

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3 Replies to “Of Plans and Planning”

  1. Thanks Rebecca once again for your thoughtful and uplifting comments and observations on life!! 🙂

  2. I enjoyed these thoughts Rebacca, thanks!💖
    Sorry I can’t help with more ideas! ☹️

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