I love it when my husband heads into the kitchen. He can walk in with either a single ingredient or a general idea in his mind and then just make everything else up as he goes along. He doesn’t need a recipe, and he is always successful. Very rarely do his creations fall short of awesome, and even when they do, they’re still very good. They might not always turn out like he wants them to, but they are always good.
No so with me. I can create something that tastes just fine and that my family loves, but I need a plan. I need to go in knowing what I’m going to cook, and then I need to know all of the ingredients I need for whatever it is I’m going to cook. If I need to make substitutions, that’s fine, but I just need to know it. And it’s not so much that I can’t be creative. I’ve made up my own recipes before. But, I need to make it up, write it down, and then follow it. I can’t make it up as I go along. I have to have a plan.
I’m the same with just about anything else I do. For sewing I need a pattern. Again, it might be that I create the pattern myself before I start sewing, but I can’t just freehand it. For school, I need a plan. I can’t just grab a book on my way into the day and say, “I think we’re going to look at this and discuss it today.” I need to sit down and have a planning time first, letting all of the ideas come together in organized fashion.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those strange people who loves to read instruction manuals. I hate reading instruction manuals. But, I like having instruction manuals. I want the guidelines, directions, patterns, plans, or whatever else I need to approach my task in an organized, planned-out fashion.
Do you know how much of a pain it is to have to go through life with that sort of personality? Think about it. I can’t adequately plan and prepare for a week because I can’t predict the fastballs that life will unexpectedly throw at me. I just have to deal with everything as it comes, whether it be aspects of marriage and parenting or the little daily things that crop up unannounced and unanticipated. That’s just rough on a planner.
And then there’s my spiritual walk. There is no truly effective five-step plan to make sure I’m starting the day with the “right” kind of quiet time. There’s no sure-fire method for approaching God in prayer, no matter how well I try to follow the ACTS model or any other such prayer aid. Those are great, but in and of themselves, they don’t bring a prayer life, well, to life.
So often I try to follow a formula that will guarantee a successful spiritual walk. But there is no formula. We have so much in the Bible to guide us into a life of purity in Christ, but none of what God has given us can be whittled down to a pattern or recipe to follow. The Bible has been referred to as our Instruction Manual for Life, but that is such an inadequate reference. It’s not a matter of following a series of steps to succeed. It’s more of an invitation to get to know and dive into a relationship with Almighty God.
God created me to be the type of person who loves and needs those patterns and recipes. But, He also created me to know Him. That doesn’t require a plan. That just requires discovering Him through His Word. It requires moment by moment obedience. It requires faith and trust that He is not only holding the plan, but has every tool He needs to ensure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the plan will be successful and victorious.