The Afterthoughts and Hindsight of Plans
Noted poet, Robert Burns, is well-known for his Scots poem, To a Mouse. Most people are familiar with the lines that read;
The best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry.Â And leave us nothing but grief and pain, for promised joy!
The poor mouse has made such plans for her home to find it now destroyed by a plow. We, whether a mouse or human, plan our lives sometimes down to the minute detail, and no matter how well-laid our plans, they often can end up, in a mess. Unlike the mouse however, we, as people, tend to live not so much in the present, but instead in the past, with much regret and sometimes fearing the future of what may come. This creates a life filled with afterthoughts.
When our plans do not go as expected, we find ourselves pondering with afterthoughts, and the suddenÂ clarity of hindsight, comes into play. If we experience enough problems with our plans, our afterthoughts will likely shape our future.Â British sculptor, Sir Jacob Epstein, was once visited in his studio by the well-known and respected author and fellow Briton, George Bernard Shaw. The visitor noticed a huge block of stone standing in one corner, and asked what it was for. ”I don’t know yet. I’m still making plans.” Shaw, astounded said,Â ”You mean you plan your work. Why, I change my mind several times a day!” ”That’s all very well with a four-ounce manuscript,” replied the sculptor, ”but not with a four-ton block.”
There are some issues in life that you just can’t afford not to plan well, but it is worth noting that sometimes even our four-ton blocks of plans, can still provide many afterthoughts and much hindsight. Isn’t it a relief to know that God’s plans are not an afterthought? That when He plans, He doesn’t restructure from hindsight? This week’s focus scripture reminds us that our salvation is not based on God’s afterthoughts or His hindsight, to make things work better.
Our salvation depends totally upon God, and His long developed plan was in place before He created not only people,Â but before He even made the world. In His great wisdom, He developed a plan that required no afterthoughts or hindsight. God planned for the spiritual blessing of Christ, because of His great love for us. We do not influence His decision, or His plan; we cannot determine our salvation from this world, through any means or earnings of our own. He freely gives it, for us to freely accept it or not. There is no need for afterthoughts or hindsight in His plan.
It doesn’t matter why God would do this, but it does matter, that we firmly believe and accept this gift. A gift, in which all we can do is give thanks. Isn’t it a comfort to know, that God’s plan for our salvation is not afterthoughts?
Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. Ephesians 1:4 (NLT)
God didn’t Create with Afterthoughts
As I contemplated this week’s verse, I realized how much I am a planner, and that even with my most well thought out plans, there will always be afterthoughts and hindsight, of things that can be better the next time. Â I do not feel that my method is a bad thing, as I think it is important that we consistently try to do the best job we can do, at whatever task we are doing. It did however make me realize, just how imperfect and flawed, even my best laid plans are, as it revealed how perfect our Creator is.
As an artist, I am constantly in a ”create” mode, but I know that even my best creations haveÂ issues that sometimes make no logic or sense. I used to work solely in the medium of clay. If you have ever worked with clay, you know how unpredictable it can be. The unpredictability is part of its charm and excitement, but it is also a major part of frustrations that will fill future creations with great afterthoughts.
When I consistently ”throw” clay pots on the wheel, knowing the design shape that I will form, and using the same amount of clay each time; I get into a rhythm in which I can usually tell when there will be an issue, with a pot. Sometimes the clay wall may become thinner in an area or there may be a large impurity that wasn’t blended well. Each of these issues can create afterthoughts later on, and often times I am well aware before I finish the design, that there are issues, however my stubbornness will not allow me to just give up in defeat, and I will keep working and force the pot, to form to the shape that I want.
The final raw shape may even appear to look the way I want it to when I finish, but often times when it dries there will be issues that arise. Even when I know or can see obvious flaws at this point, it is rare that I would give up and destroy the pot. It is however, during the firing process, the heating of the clay to the temperature that changes its state from the soft malleable substance to the hardened product, which really will put weakened areas or flaws to the test. It is during the fire that the flawed clay can warp, crack, and sometimes just completely shatter.
Depending on the results and my afterthoughts, once the firing is over; sometimes these flawed pots can be re-purposed into different things, sometimes they can be glazed; coated with a thin layer of glass, making them beautiful and hiding their flaws, and yet sometimes the clay, with its own will, crumbles to a state beyond anything I can possibly do. No matter what my afterthoughts may be, I am consistently trying to force the pot to bend to my will and be like my original idea. Are people like clay?
Unlike the forceful pot maker I may be, God doesn’t sweep in with afterthoughts and patch us up again, forcing us to be what He wants. He takes us as the lumps of clay we are, and allows us to shape ourselves. Sometimes we keep to His guidance and purposes, and other times we warp and crack determining to find our own shapes. When the fires of life hit us, some of us stand strong, others may crack, and some warp. If we return to our creator, then He will help us re-purpose our lives becoming beautiful once again, as we freely align ourselves with His purpose and will. For those of us, who shatter completely; through Christ there still remains hope. For where a potter would destroy the pieces, God will make new, once again, through the great salvation of Christ, by simply accepting the gift.
Salvation is not afterthoughts in God’s plan. You cannot mess up God’s plan, you can either accept it or not. He has given you a great gift, one that He planned long before He planned the earth. It is through following Christ, that God chose you to be holy and without fault in His eyes. The cost to you is nothing, but the desire to give God praise and thanks should overwhelm you, for all His goodness, love, and the magnificent gift of salvation. Securely realize that God is in control and His plans are not afterthoughts of revised disasters; and come to the knowledge of the startling realization of how muchÂ your creator loves you.
Plans are important, to all aspects of life. So make plans and think carefully about how they reveal your praise to God. Hudson Taylor, a Christian missionary to China, had strong convictions about how to carry through God’s work with plans. He said you can make your best plans and try to carry them out in your own strength. Or you can make careful plans and ask God to bless them. The last way and perhaps the best is to begin with God; asking His plans, and to offer to Him, to carry out His purposes.”
You should plan to be challenged to live your life to the best of your ability allowing the reflection to point to God. You should plan to be motivated to share the awesome revelation of salvation with others, letting them know, that Christ is not an afterthought. Comfort abounds you in knowing that God does not make new plans because of afterthoughts or based on hindsight, for in reality if God made plans based on hindsight and afterthoughts, He most likely would have just started over.
Love in Christ, and there are no afterthoughts in that!
God has a plan. Trust it, Live it, Enjoy it.
Credits: British sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein illustration - Today in the Word, April 5, 1993.Â Hudson Taylor - W. Wiersbe,Â Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching and Preachers, p. 243.
What are your thoughts? Join Us in Discussion
Do you make plans based on afterthoughts and or hindsight? Have you ever thought that the salvation that God gives you through Christ is just an afterthought or revamped plan of God? Did you know that God loved and chose you long before He made the world and His plan was Christ all along? Join us in discussion about afterthoughts, hindsight, and God’s use of neither when He makes plans.