You’ve probably heard the old joke that if you want to make God laugh make plans. Well, I’m not so sure about God’s sense of humor about it all, but it does seem to hold true that many of our best-laid plans do go awry while much that does happen in our lives are things we never planned for. Am I right?
Consider the devastating earthquake that occurred this past week in Haiti. Name one person who had that event scheduled on his or her day-planner. Pick any such disaster throughout history and the same holds true. But the same also holds true for the positive events in our lives – the opportunities that come our way. Seldom do they occur as we planned, if planned at all. How, then, if it was not planned were people from around the world able to respond so immediately to the tragedy in Haiti? The only answer is that thankfully there are those who are prepared to respond when disasters occur no matter what they might be.
There are things for which we plan and others for which we prepare, there’s a difference. Planning equips us for the expected; preparing equips us for the unexpected. An architect, for example creates a plan, a blueprint for building a house or a building. A finance professional develops a financial plan to provide for our retirement. A traveler plans the route he will take. A parent on the other hand does not plan a child’s life, but prepares the child for life. Armies prepare to defend us from enemy attacks. Relief organizations prepare in order to respond to disasters such as those in Haiti. Education prepares us for vocations, careers, and life.
Plans may not always pan out the way – well, the way we planned them to, if at all, and that’s probably why we imagine that God must chuckle when we make them in the first place. Does that mean we should simply live by the seat of our pants? Hardly! Wise, successful people are planners, for it is plans that provide direction in our lives. And wise, successful people are also preparers, for it is preparation that equips us to respond when the inevitable unexpected occurs.