The #1 Way to Make Plans that Last

[From the archives.]


“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21.)

Our son Kyle recently came home from college for a long weekend and brought three friends with him. For spacious-nesters like us it was quite a crowd. (My wife Liz and I figure we’re not empty-nesters since we’re still here for crying out loud!)

Each night after dinner we all sat together at the table and talked. We didn’t necessarily talk about anything in particular; we just talked. There was a lot of laughing as we told stories about Kyle when he was younger. He’s a good sport and came up with a few stories about us too. His friends were very entertained and kept looking at Kyle and saying things like, “Well that explains a lot!”

They also asked us questions, mostly about God and faith and the Bible. Apparently Kyle told them ahead of time they should feel free to ask us whatever they had on their minds when it came to God. He knows us well, because Liz and I are not likely to back away from a discussion about God things.

Eventually the conversations turned to their plans for the future. Kyle is the only one graduating this year, so the others were talking about what to do this summer, whether to apply to study abroad next year, what their major might finally end up being. In all of this there was a subtext of faith. At times it became explicit such as when talking about opportunities to serve on a summer mission, but even when not so explicit it was always there under the surface. These kids know that their lives are wrapped up in God.

They left after dinner on Monday, and the next day I was reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers. I don’t know how many times I’ve read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I know it’s enough to have lost count by now. Yet every time I get to the part where Aragorn and his friends Gimli the Dwarf and Legolas the Elf meet Eomer, I am struck again by the timelessness of the tale.

Aragorn explains to Eomer that they are traveling through his country on a quest to save their Hobbit friends from a large band of marauding Orcs, and he seeks Eomer’s leave to continue their pursuit. Eomer struggles with whether to help these strangers or not and says:

“It is hard to be sure of anything among so many marvels. Elf and Dwarf in company walk among our daily fields …! How shall a man judge what to do in such times?”

“As he has ever judged,” said Aragorn. “Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among men.”


That’s what got me thinking about Kyle and his friends. They are all judging what to do with their lives, even if that’s not quite how they’d put it. But his friends are in just their second year of college. Where are they supposed to get the ability to discern good from ill, right from wrong? Well, as timeless as Tolkien’s portrayal of good judgment may be there is an even more timeless resource for them (and us) to turn to for guidance.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3.)

God himself is the one we can trust our plans to. Does it matter whether the plan is to go to summer school or serve on a mission to South Africa? What about making a final decision on choosing a major? Is a choice of roommate and housing for next year something to exercise good judgment over?

The answer to each of these questions is the same: Yes. How is this done, though? What does it mean to commit our plans to the God? The Bible tells us. “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31.) We’re also told that God’s will is that we “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.)

Those are our guides for committing our plans to God: seek his glory, and do it joyfully, prayerfully and with thanksgiving. On top of all this, the Bible also gives us a wonderful reason to trust God with those plans: his eternal and unchanging nature.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8.)

Even more than Tolkien’s assurance about the unchanging qualities of good and ill, we can rest assured that God himself has not changed since yesteryear. That’s why committing our plans to him is always the best plan we can make.

I’m planning on it.


[My thanks to Adriana of Classical Quest for creating the LOTR quote-graphic for this post.]


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23 Responses to The #1 Way to Make Plans that Last

  1. Another Tolkien fan! No wonder I like your writing 🙂

    • Tim says:

      I’m always surprised when I find out someone is not a Tolkien fan.

      • Yeah, not sure how that works…

      • Bronwyn Lea says:

        oh dear. Tolkein is someone I feel I OUGHT to read and be a fan of, but I read the hobbit years ago and did not love it.

        Can we still be friends, or is this the end?

        • Tim says:

          NP, Bron. 😉

          I’d say that LotR might be more your speed, as it is a different writing style.

        • Bronwyn Lea says:

          That’s helpful feedback. I had avoided LOTR thinking “this will be like the hobbit… Just much, much longer.”

        • Robert Martin says:

          I didn’t read the Hobbit first either… I got introduced to Tolkien via that animated cartoon version of Return of the King. so, went to the library to find the book… and was like “That’s book 3? Where’s book 1?” Got totally hooked from then on in… then noticed “Wait… A prologue to LotR? Okay… I’ll bite…”

          Now I read Silmarillion, Lost Tales, The Children of Hurin, Leaf by Niggle, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, “On Fairy Stories”…

        • Bronwyn Lea says:

          Hmmm. Y’all are making me reconsider here.

        • Robert Martin says:

          Deliberately mixing memes….

          Come to the Dork Side…

        • Bronwyn Lea says:

          The farce is strong with you, I see.

  2. Robert Martin says:

    You, my friend, have just now entered an elite world… the world of bloggers relating Tolkien to theology whom I call wise-men…

    Frodo Lives…

  3. Mary Anne says:

    As I’m in a book group with several people who (gasp!) do not care for Tolkien, I offer this explanation: we’ve theorized that it may have to do with the age at which you first read Tolkien. I’m not sure this works across the board, but most of us in the group who do love his work encountered him while we were still young and our taste was still being formed. Those who don’t didn’t read him until they were older. *shrug* But yeah, I’m also surprised when someone else doesn’t like Tolkien. One of my treasured memories is receiving LotR as a Christmas present when I was 15, and ALL I remember of that Christmas holiday is being curled up in a armchair, absorbed in those books. It was a giant leap forward in my reading life.

    As for quotations, here’s one that means more and more to me as time goes on:

    “In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory.”

    • Tim says:

      That is one of my favorite lines, MA. Heaven is not about memories of the past, good or ill. It is about eternity with God and a wondrous life in him.

  4. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for these encouraging reminders of God’s timeless faithfulness, Tim. I love the conversation about LOTR! That book always has something new to say to me too.

  5. Ruth says:

    Great blog Tim! Loved The Hobbit, really wanted a house like theirs when I was little…seeing I’m only 5ft tall,…maybe I still do!
    Read everything I can find by Tolkein and C.S Lewis, so have my adult sons who felt the spiritual pull of the writers.
    My adult sons, 26 and 24 are still at home, but very independent and it’s wonderful to watch them grow into men who share with their parents. Son number 2 calls me Gimli, and son number 1 yells ‘dwarf attack, run’ whilst laughing loudly as I give chase. Could life be more fun than that? And , yes I caught him once and didn’t know what to do with him, he did though, he just picked me up and put down on the couch saying, ‘good dwarf, good dwarf’ while patting me on the head. Would you believe they all laughed??? I would. 🙂 🙂 off topic, but, fun I’d good!

    • Tim says:

      What a fun relationship you have with your kids, Ruth! That put a smile on my face this morning.

      • Ruth says:

        I do indeed Tim, glad it made you smile! Love that we can share all sorts of things on your blog. Feel very at home here. Hubby comes from the area in New Zealand where The Hobbit et al was filmed, so maybe I’ll find a Hobbit Hole on our next visit from Aus. Lol. We have great fun, and dramas, as one son is an out door security guard at a huge shopping centre, and the other in post office motorbike delivery. So many close calls and black stories we debrief. Usually in the wee hours with all four of us in and on our bed, all talking, me hugging, dad talking great male talk, he was in security too. We are flat broke and in debt, but My Loving Lord has all this in his Hands, and I wouldn’t trade places with anyone if we had to give up our family relationships….I am so blessed by my family!
        One day the bed will break, so, we will sit on the floor and share a tear and a laugh!
        Blame cortisone for my epistle! 🙂

  6. Aimee Byrd says:

    I’m behind on my blog reading these days as I’m up against some deadlines, but I took a quick peek over here before dashing off to small group for the evening. We are talking about idolatry tonight, and this fits so well. All the wonderful plans that we make and where we are placing our meaning and our value.
    On another note, my husband is reading through the Tolkien series with my 9-year-old for bedtime every night.

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