Located on the seashores of Amchit, Lebanon, is the Babel Bahr Lighthouse (pictured above). It points to one of the most renowned Lebanese restaurants in the Mediterranean. The lighthouse has a fully functional rotating light fixture, but it does not serve as an actual navigational aid because the area does not accommodate a deck for ships. It was built exclusively as part of the restaurant’s design. You might say that it is technically the welcoming door to fine cuisine and luxurious dining.
Although Babel Bahr means “door to the sea” in Arabic, the Lighthouse of Babel Bahr reminds me of the Tower of Babel. Babel, from the Hebrew word balal, meaning to jumble or to confuse, was the name given by God to a Babylonian city where the descendants of Noah had settled. Many of you may be familiar with the story, but for those who aren’t here is a short summary. After the great flood, mankind spoke one language (Gen. 11:1). Seeking a place to live as one great community they traveled to the land of Shinar (Gen 11:2), what is now modern day Iraq. This move was clearly not God’s plan. He wanted them to spread out, multiply, and inhabit the whole earth once again. So there, in the plains of Babylonia, they came together and planned to build a city with a tower that would reach the heavens (Gen. 11:4). The Bible does not give specific details as to why they wanted to build this tower except that they desired to make a name for themselves. Some historians speculate that they might have wanted to protect themselves from the possibility of another flood. Others suggest that they had turned away from the one true God and that the tower would help them communicate with their other gods. Regardless of the reason for their seemingly great idea, their plan was a Godless plan. In order to prevent them from continuing their selfish, arrogant, and defying project God decided to confound their language (Gen. 11:7). As a result, they could no longer work together and proceed with their undertaking. So in total disarray and confusion, they were forced to scatter throughout the world (Gen. 11:8-9) ultimately fulfilling the plan of God.
Have you ever had a plan ready to be implemented only to find out at the last minute that it couldn’t be done? How about one that you actually brought into play but had to terminate abruptly? Been there, done that. Needless to say, not being able to start or even finish a well-designed plan can leave anyone with an immense feeling of disappointment and failure, especially if it was a seemingly godly plan.
Not only can a change of plan cause frustration, but in many cases, it also forces one to go back to the drawing board. For Christians, however, it should do more than that. It should also encourage us to analyze it from a biblical perspective. Whenever one of our “great” plans get thwarted, we must accept that either we didn’t consult with God first for clear direction or we completely went against His will and must trust that He has a better plan. King Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, said that if we entrust our works (whatever we do) to the Lord He would take care of establishing them (allow them to succeed).
Many a time we follow the humanistic formula for planning. First, we come up with an idea that has been triggered by a desire or a need. Then, we calculate its possibilities and devise a plan. Finally, we gather information, follow through some specific steps and away we go! Oh, we may commit it to God (ask Him to bless it), but only after we have initiated it or run into some unforeseen setbacks. Sounds familiar? God knows I have been guilty of poor (Godless) planning myself. But I have learned my lesson and if you can identify with me then my prayer is that you have too.
When developing a secular or even a spiritual plan, sometimes we go about it as if we had it all figured out. We fail to seek God’s direction through prayer, Scriptures and godly counsel. This kind of attitude suggests that we don’t need God and increases the probability of being outside of His will. Plus, it leaves us devoid of a key element needed to succeed in our plans, namely advice (Proverbs 15:22). In any event, it all points out to pride, which is what King Solomon said comes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18) and which was the downfall of the city and tower of Babel.
Because Godless planning is rooted in self-centeredness and self-sufficiency, here are some of the results we should expect:
- Frustration and disappointment
- Undesired results
- Loss/Waste of time and resources
- Unnecessary hardship
- Implicating others
In addition, Godless planning reflects contempt for God and supposes that we are in control of the future while ignoring the fact that we are not even guaranteed our next breath. The Apostle James warns us against such attitude calling it an “evil boast” (James 4:13-16).
There is a Bible verse that is a favorite among many religious groups. It is found in Jeremiah 29:11. If we internalize the message of this verse we can conclude that God has a perfect plan for each and every one of us. A plan that guarantees a hopeful and prosperous/successful future. And if we truly believe that, then why wouldn’t we trust Him to lead us in every plan we make throughout our lifetime? King Solomon also said that if we acknowledge God in EVERYTHING we do not only will He guide us but also set us on the right path [to success] (Proverbs 3:5,6). I don’t know about you, but I rather entrust all my plans to Him who knows the beginning and the end. To Him who is perfect in all His ways. To Him who wants only the best for me. To Him who has the power to mess up MY plans in order to fulfill His. And I certainly rather follow HIS plan knowing that even if the outcome is not what I expect, He can and will make it all work out for my good (Romans 8:28).
Have you made plans to accomplish something this year or in the near future? Are you currently fulfilling a plan you made some time ago? Did you consult with God first? Did you seek counsel in His Word and/or from a spiritually mature Christian? In other words, did you make sure it was not a Godless plan? Remember, God himself has established that His ways are not our ways, neither are His thoughts our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). So, while we are encouraged to set goals, think critically and plan ahead, it would behoove us to first seek the counsel of Him who planned, designed, created and successfully set the universe and life itself in motion. That is the easy part. Once we do that, then comes the difficult part, which is to wait.
But for those of us who learn to wait after seeking God, there is an ever encouraging promise characterized by renewed strength, the ability to soar, walk, and run without any setbacks (Isaiah 40:31). This, my dear brother/sister, is the only proven method to avoid rushing into Godless plans and to give God all the glory when our Spirit-led plans succeed.
Prayer: Oh, Mighty God of all creation. To you who are perfect in all your ways, I surrender my will, desires, hopes, and dreams. I entrust you with all my plans and ask you to lead me, and guide me according to your purpose for my life. I trust you and wait upon you knowing that if I follow your counsel my plans will succeed and bring glory and honor to you. In Jesus name, amen.