“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”
–Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)
Today, I would like to introduce the subject of planning by discussing phobias with you. While you might think this is strange, please bear with me, for I would like to show you what the seemingly unrelated subjects of phobias and planning have in common.
To do this, however, we must take a look at each subject individually, so let’s start with fears. It seems as though people are becoming more and more fearful lately. I would like to tell you about some of the most absurd fears I’ve found on the web.
First we have the fear of garbage, also known as purgamentophobia. From what I understand, people with this phobia are worried about illnesses caused by bacteria, which make their homes in our garbage cans.
Next, we have the fear of belly buttons, which seems to be based on superstition. The technical name for this is phalophobia, and the singer Jenny Frost suffers from it. One article said that when she gets near people, she asks them not to touch her belly button.
Osmophobia is the fear of smells. One person says that it could be due to the conditioned response to a particular scent.
The list of logical and irrational fears and phobias could go on and on. Feel free to look them up, and see if you or a loved one suffer from any of them.
Now, consider the two poles of a magnet. One pole attracts, while the other repels. It is the same when it comes to planning and fear.
Like its cousin, fear, planning is rational, and not based on emotion. Except for choices like our dining, travel and shopping preferences, most of us don’t plan out our lives. Instead, we do what I call scanning. You may give each day a once-over, but you don’t necessarily think about each step you take every day.
That brings up an interesting question. Why don’t you and I look ahead more often? Many times, we suffer from what I call phobia futurus. This is a name I coined to illustrate our fear of planning for the future.
Sometimes we might think, “I’ll just wait and see what happens in the future.” The problem is that when we fail to plan ahead, we tend to view life from a passive perspective. In other words, from this point of view, life is like a movie that just happens on the screen, without any active input from us. If I see myself in this perspective when circumstances aren’t favorable, I am merely a victim. This idea breeds fear which, in turn, cripples and imprisons us. God, on the other hand, wants us to live active lives, full of both joy and freedom.
One example of planning while listening to God can be seen in the life of Daniel. If you remember, Daniel and his three friends were taken to Babylon when the king fought against Judah. The king wanted only the cream of the crop, so Daniel and his friends underwent a 3-year indoctrination program. In it, they were to re-learn everything, change their names, and be introduced to the worship of the Babylonian gods.
Instead of passively submitting to that lifestyle, Daniel made a plan. While he didn’t know what his fate would be in Babylon, he did know the scriptures. Since God detests idolatry, Daniel and his friends spoke with the chief official and requested an exemption from eating the king’s meat, which had been offered to idols. Daniel asked for a trial period in which he and his friends would be given only vegetables, and they passed with flying colors.
Now you may ask, “How does this story affect me in the 21st century?”
As Christians, we need to stand up for God like never before. We can no longer be passive. We need to make active plans, which will enable us to live the kind of lives He calls us to live.
Since God is gradually being phased out of our society, it is crucial that all of us make plans to get to know His Word better than ever. We may take our Bibles for granted, but there are believers in other parts of the world who risk their lives to read God’s Word. His Word is where our strength and guidance come from. So when we need to walk a mile in Daniel’s shoes and take that difficult stand, God fills us with boldness and determination.
For you, it might be the workplace or a social arena that is especially difficult, but Christ promises to be with us at all times. Maybe you won’t be called on to do something dramatic, but we are all called to stand for what is right. The apostle Paul tells us not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. He also tells us that this renewal can only take place when God’s Word washes and cleanses our minds.
Often, the hardest place to stand for God is within the routine of our daily lives. We get so busy doing non-essential things that we don’t have time for the truly important matters. Sadly, most of us spend more time on Facebook or surfing the Internet than we spend alone with God.
My wife and I will soon be moving into a new home. While the move might seem unrelated to this devotion, it really isn’t. Think about all of the labeling and packing of boxes that’s involved.
Just as you would before moving away, do an inventory of your life. You might be surprised at all the physical or mental junk you’ll throw away. (By the way, I’m speaking first and foremost to myself. I’m not innocent of clutter by any means, and neither is my wife.)
While I have always struggled with planning, I can say that it has helped me in every part of my life. So, my friend, let’s struggle together, and plan to experience life at its fullest.
If you are not a Christian, I would like to invite you to make plans to get to know Him. All you have to do is confess your sins, and ask Him into your heart. If you need prayer, please call 507-369-6861. Happy planning!
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-432-6498. When prompted, press 1 for live chat rooms, and we’ll be waiting in room 31. You can press pound to bypass our friend Sharon’s intro message once you’ve entered room 31. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.