“No Plan survives first contact with the enemy.” This quote has been attributed to Helmuth von Moltke, Carl von Clausewitz, Dwight Eisenhower, and Douglas MacArthur. I like the way Mike Tyson said it “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.”
In the military, if it’s true no plan survives contact with the enemy (it doesn’t), and “war is chaos” (it is), you’d expect the military to abandon the massive time and attention it lends to planning. However, military planning is the best, most deliberate planning there is. If you know the plan, you know the alternates, contingencies, and options available to everyone from the general to the private.
Jeremiah 29:1 offers one of the most well-known lines from scriptures regarding plans”.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Those are the words of the “weeping prophet”. Jeremiah was poor, unpopular, isolated, and persecuted. He was talking to a nation in obvious decline and heading to exile. In those circumstances, saying words like “Plan… for future and hope”; it is no wonder he was rejected.
We have all made plans, big and small, that have not survived first contact with COVID-19. Financial uncertainty and sickness have torn through our communities and taken our plans with them. Weddings and graduation have been canceled. Counselors were excited for their first year on staff or to finally be a section chief. Some were planning for their Lone Eagle ceremony. Campers were desperately yearning to be back in the Christian community. We can find ourselves like the Israelites listening to Jeremiah and saying, “future and hope”?!?
First, don’t stop planning. Plan and submit those plans to the Lord. Plan as it says in Proverbs 16 “A man makes plans in his heart, but the LORD directs his steps.” It’s okay to make plans, take those plans to the Lord and He will direct your steps to something greater. Like the Israelites, you may have to wait 70 years (or 600 years as you’ll see in my next point).
When making plans also take encouragement from Isaiah 62 which assures us that “the LORD delights in you”, “God will rejoice over you”. He delights in your plans to serve him. Don’t stop making plans. Reflect on Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path”. The marriage of God’s word lighting my path with His delight in me brings contentment to my plans, even though I am “in contact” with the enemy.
Remember, His plan is the master plan; the one plan to rule all our hopes and future. Jeremiah was talking about the Israelites’ future return from exile but he was also pointing to the future and hope we have through the redemptive work of Jesus.
Jesus is the future and hope for us all. In the darkness we find ourselves in, turn to the light shining on the hill. You know what it is like to stand at a dark waterfront and witness the power of just one candle; then the beauty of hundreds. As you walk, like on a dark night lit by only the candles of you and your friends, let the Lord direct your steps.
Follow up questions:
In Proverbs 16:1-9 find the three times “plans” are mentioned and the role of God in our plans.
Turn to the beginning of Jeremiah in your Bible, are there any notes about him and his life?
Read Isaiah 62:1-5, just appreciate it for its beauty and poetry.
In verse 4 does it say Hephzibah and Beulah or something else? Look up these words to explore their meaning.
In DL Bonds, Chief Nick Dotti