Beauty n. state of being pleasing to the senses • Liturgy n. work of the people

Photo by Julia Washburn

by Rev. Dixie Ford

When I was in seminary, one of my classes required small groups of students to meet regularly and share details about our lives. When it was my turn to share about my childhood, I was surprised by my group’s reaction when I stated, “One of my favorite things to do when I was a kid was to make schedules.” They howled with laughter. 

From early childhood, I have been a lover of all things planning: schedules, to-do lists, bullet points, goals. Until recently, I have considered planning to be something we all have to do and something I enjoy because of my personality type. But lately, I have begun to think about planning in a different light. What if planning is a gift to all of us, even to those who don’t naturally love it? What if planning is a spiritual practice, an act of worship? What if planning is holy

As I have pondered these questions, I have noticed a few gifts that planning offers us:

Planning slows us down

When we plan, we are forced to be still, to think through our desires and vision, and to focus on details that are often missed when we are hurried. As Christians, when we plan, we ask for God to reveal God’s vision to us, and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we thoughtfully and prayerfully decide on our next steps. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Planning forces stillness, giving us space to hear from God and to follow where God is leading. 

Planning is a blessing for others

For years, Crosscreek has taken children and youth to Passport camp each summer. One reason I love taking groups to Passport is that the students receive quality camp programming that I don’t have to plan! I am free to focus instead on building relationships with the students in my group. 

When we are the planners, we offer others the opportunity to focus on something else. When Passport plans camp, group leaders focus on kids. When Kevin plans the music for worship, worshipers focus on God through the music. When Brandon plans sermons, listeners focus on what God is saying to us through Scripture. When someone plans for us, we are free to receive and enjoy what they have planned; when we plan, we offer the same gift to someone else.

Planning helps us create with intention

In the beginning, God created. I imagine God as an artist creating wildly. But God’s creation is not random. Into emptiness and chaos, God spoke and set the laws of science in motion. Psalm 139:13-14 speaks of God forming our inward parts, knitting us together in our mother’s womb—wonderfully designing every system of our bodies. In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, “For surely I know the plans I have for you…”

God is spontaneous and free, and God is a planner who cares about the smallest detail. When we plan, we are imitating God’s intentionality in creation. 

Those schedules that I made as a child more often than not changed within a few days. Life is like that. Plans change and get changed. May we learn to hold our plans loosely, allowing the Holy Spirit to form and re-form them. May we remember that it is not necessarily what we plan that is sacred, but the act of planning itself—slowing down, blessing others, imitating God—that is holy and beautiful.