Fireside Theology: Confessions of a Chronic Planner




Over the weekend, I traveled to visit with friends who live in another town. Some basic planning on my part had gone into the gathering. I'd asked one friend if we could get together at his home, ordered a couple of pizzas, and called a few people to stop by. We sat around the fire and caught up with each other. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and I was pleased that these "plans" had worked out so well.

Then one guy, who is learning to play the banjo, received a text message. He had a guitar-playing friend and a mandolin-playing friend who were wanting to "jam." He issued an invitation, and before long a trio of instruments had joined our humble fireside gathering. Conversation turned to melody as we sang spirituals, hymns, and campfire favorites. The planned had evolved into the unplanned, and the fellowship of friends became a celebration of song.

I confess that I am a chronic planner. I love order. I love to organize. I like to have a schedule. The degree in mathematics hanging on my office wall constantly reminds me that I also love cut-and-dry outcomes. The pastoral life has challenged me with the ways that the flux of life (and death) can quickly change what's on my calendar. I'm still training myself in the basic lesson that we can only plan so much--and that we rarely know outcomes.

We planners should have the following verse of Scripture painted on our bathroom mirrors: "The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps" (Proverbs 16:9, New Revised Standard Version). There's nothing wrong with making plans. We need plans in order to have goals, purposes, visions, and much more. But somewhere along the way, our planning has to give way to God's direction. When we do so, those impromptu fireside concerts emerge. Our faith should not be in our own plans but in the One who has even bigger plans in mind for us.

As we sang and clapped to "Will The Circle Be Unbroken?" on Friday evening, I gave thanks that no matter how far I live from friends and family, God's Spirit binds us in such an unbroken circle. I gave thanks that the saints who have gone before us are part of that eternal circle. I gave thanks that the circle is held together by God's direction. I gave thanks for the planned and the unplanned.

We did not record our "concert" on Friday evening, but the above video features "Will The Circle Be Unbroken?" It is sure to make you smile with its circle of outstanding musicians and hopeful lyrics. As you watch, may you experience the love of God's unbroken circle.

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian