In their hearts, humans plan their course but the LORD establishes their steps. –Proverbs 16:9 NLT 

I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of times when I think that my life should look like the top picture, but the bottom picture is a better description of how my life unfolds. Can you relate?

Look, if your life is always the top picture, let me know. I really would love to talk to you!

There’s nothing like imagining life as a straight line but in reality, God allows my life to look a little more like an off-road adventure with no steering wheel.  

Most of us know what it’s like to travel unplanned roads gathering vital life lessons, experience the good, the bad and the not fair. In high school, I thought that I’d be an English teacher. I ended up married. While married and in college, I planned to be an attorney. I ended up graduating from college earlier and becoming an insurance adjuster. I planned to have two kids, but God knew that we needed the third one who has added so much fun into our lives. 

Now, I’m traveling along a long, dark, bumpy road of an addiction issue in our family. God, I’m not a fan of this particular road. Can you re-route us back over to the familiar road where we could set the cruise control and enjoy the sun on our faces? 

God’s answer seems to be: Sweet Barb, this is the road I’ve allowed for you. Stop focusing on the bumps and look forward so that you won’t miss my blessings.

Does that whisper sound familiar to you, too?

Some of you are totally grooving with me right now. We’re waking up each day living a life that we could have never imagined in our wildest dreams – or scariest nightmares.   

So, when I think about King Solomon’s observation in Proverbs 16:9 that we can make plans but God determines our steps, I think that there is tremendous wisdom that we can apply to our lives at the beginning of the new year. 

In this verse, we are reminded that God controls the speed and direction of our desired steps.  This means that there will likely be points in our life journey when our lives and plans will blow off course, like a ship blown off course in a storm. 

We have to move unexpectedly 

We switch to a new career… 

We can’t pregnant… 

We get a life-changing diagnosis 

We feel God’s prompting to change our lifestyle… 

We’ll face the loss of a child or spouse… 

When our lives seem to blow off course – even for good reasons – it can be a shock to our system. While there are some surprises like a promotion or new baby that we can get behind and get excited about, the tough unexpected changes can bring a kind of pain that tempts us to shake our fist at God and beg him to put our lives back on track. 

What if God changes your life so that you can take some life-changing steps of faith? 

In Proverbs 16:9, the last part of the verse says that God establishes our steps. As I reflected on those words, I realized that God’s plan for our lives includes an off-course invitation to take steps that are often difficult, but always have eternal value.  

Here’s some steps of opportunity that God might be inviting you to take in this off-road season of your life:

If you’re out of your comfort zone, God invites you to take a step of faith. 

If you aren’t getting what you want, God invites you to take a step of surrender. 

If your plan is delayed, God invites you to take a step of patience. 

If you’ve made a mistake, God invites you to take a step of humility. 

If a friend or family fails you, God invites you to take a step of forgiveness. 

If you’ve fallen into sin, God invites you to take a step of repentance. 

A friendly reminder (or you might need the following as a warning against wrong expectations of God):  Just because you take the step doesn’t mean that God will put your plans back on track.

That’s not how God works. Rather, your step is a willingness to allow God to take you on a journey to a place that you’ve never been and lead you toward experiencing a level of faith and trust that you’ve never had. 

If I had to drill down what I’ve learned about what happens when God allows the plans for my life to go off-course, here’s a summary of what I’ve learned: 

It will be a wild ride. 

It will be an emotional journey. 

You’ll experience a closer relationship with God that you could never accomplish any other way. 


COMMENT: Has your life blown off your planned course? What step do you feel God might be calling you to take?

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