Articles by Stan Dean

The Best-Laid Plans…

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A young preacher had taken some vacation time out of town and had the opportunity to worship at a church as a visitor rather than the preacher on Sunday. He was looking forward to hearing a preacher with more experience than himself to see if he could pick up some skills for his own use.

The older preacher did not disappoint. When he entered the pulpit that morning he appeared rather disorganized and offered an apology. He said that he had been so busy with visiting the sick, counseling, comforting the hurting and such like the previous week that he had no time left to prepare a sermon. After the apology he walked away from the microphone leaving the audience rather stunned. However, he returned after a short time and delivered a powerful sermon titled “Unprepared To Meet God.” His “apology” was used only as an attention getter- -and boy did it work!

The young preacher was so inspired and impressed, he could hardly wait to get back home and use the same illustration on his congregation. Thus, when he got in the pulpit the next Sunday morning, he did his best to look unprepared and offered an apology using the same words as he had heard the week before. Unexpectedly though, as he started to walk away from the microphone a little old lady sitting near the rear of the auditorium shouted, “Well, couldn’t you just read out of the Bible or something?” He never expected that and was so thrown off balance, he could barely preach!

Life is a lot that way. To borrow some famous words: “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” I know of no better case study of this truth than the story of Job. At the beginning of his life, he seemed to have it all together. He earned the top award for righteous living over all the earth (1:1, 8). He was also one of the wealthiest men of his day (1:3). Beyond that, he was blessed with a big family for whom he got up early to offer daily sacrifices (1:2, 5). But even though he was doing all the right things, trouble still came (3:26).
It is not necessarily a defect in our plans when they do not come together; the culprit is often the uncertainty of life (cf. James 4:13-15). And when our lives take an unexpected turn (and they all do from time to time), we come to realize what little control we have over our future. So, like Job, may we wisely put our hand in the hand of the One who will see us through the unseen turns on life’s road (cf. Job 19:25).

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