The lyrics to the song, “The Great Adventure”, by Steven Curtis Chapman, start out like this:
Started out this morning in the usual way
Chasing thoughts inside my head of all I had to do today
I admit that this is sometimes how I wake up, focusing on what my schedule for the following day looks like. What meetings to I need to mentally prepare for at work? What tasks are due today? Where do I need to be (or transport children to) in the evening? Are any major events (like an anniversary) coming up, that require some advance preparations?
This is one of those times when we most need to seek wisdom from God, though. Rather than jumping to what we want to do, this is a great time to seek God’s counsel, and to yield the specific things in our day – both planned and unplanned – to Him.
After all, we only know so much about what will happen in our lives on any given day:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
James 4:13-14 NASB
Having seen this, I don’t think the answer is to avoid making plans. It might seem easy to just jump into life blindly, and make it up as we go. That’s not how I understand the Christian walk to be, though (see 1 Peter 3:14-16, for a reminder to be prepared). Rather, the balance of being prepared and not usurping God’s will comes through yielding our lives’ ultimate direction to God’s plan.
Many plans are in a man’s heart,
But the counsel of the Lord will stand.
Proverbs 19:21 NASB
Tactically, this includes actions on our part like the following:
- Checking the content of our plans against God’s clear instructions. The Bible may not tell you whether to take the highway or the back roads to get to the store today, but it does tell you whether or not you should love your neighbor. (Hint: Yes, you should.)
- Asking God for help in decisions. This may mean delaying choices – especially big ones – until we’ve had time to ask God for help, and to read or listen to His reply.
- Remaining open to (and looking for) God’s leadership, as we go about our day. Sometimes, this is just an awareness of our surroundings, and the opportunities that God puts into our day. Other times, it’s choosing to not plow through obstacles He puts up to block the wrong paths for us.
So, whenever you process your to-do list for the day, be careful to not make it just your own. Leave space for God to edit that list.
By the way, I’ve historically resisted the idea that our quiet time with God must be in the morning. I’m more of a night person, and am probably more alert and focused in the evening. However, despite my wiring, I’ve benefited from more than 20 years of (generally) reading the Bible and praying to God in the morning, so I find it difficult to argue with starting my day with Him. Still, if you’ve found another time of day where you can regularly spend time with God, I am in no way suggesting that morning is the only time for this!
While the verse below finds the psalmist talking with God about some negative things, note that he is heard by God throughout the day.
Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur,
And He will hear my voice.
Psalms 55:17 NASB
Regardless, no matter what time of day you spend with God, be sure to start your day off right – focused on Him.
(And, if you don’t mind a music suggestion, getting a recording of the old hymn, “Give Me Jesus”, might not hurt, either!)