As 2019 comes to a close, I’ve been on the hunt for the “perfect planner” to use in 2020. Over the past few years, I’ve tried out several planners in an attempt to find one that would help my overwhelming life feel more manageable, organizing my days with ease. The other day I stumbled upon a website that offers completely customized planners. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t spend at least 30 minutes trying to make the best combination for my needs before I exited the site.
The search for the “perfect planner” is common for women around the start of a new year. Ads pop up advertising planners promising to simplify, organize, and structure our lives. We hope these planners will make our lives more full of joy, life, and purpose. While a solid planner can be an effective tool to help us live focused, organized lives, they fail to meet the deeper longing our souls are searching to fulfill.
A planner can, at best, provide a framework for a day or plan for the week. However, it cannot account for the unknowns, the unexpected, and the unwanted we inevitably face each day. If we are not careful, idolizing the “perfect planner” and detailed plan for the day can overshadow our utter need for God. We need Him to direct our paths, establish our steps, and sovereignly guide us through the ups and downs of daily life.
Searching for Perfect
In my endless searching for the perfect planner, I dug a little deeper into the soil of my soul to uncover why I thought I needed it. What I found was an innate desire for perfection. I want my life to be seamless and easy. As I searched, I found I crave deliberately planned days. I idolize productivity and often love ambition more than I delight in resting in Jesus. As I’ve tried out countless planners over the years, I’ve also dug up the weeds of discontent that drive me to search for “perfect” in this life that can only be found in Christ.
At the heart of my search is a desire to live my life perfectly and escape the effects of sin. I don’t enjoy the unexpected and I love marking items off my to-do list. But that is not how life goes most of the time. Just last week I’d planned out each day with goals and things to do. However, I found myself sitting on the couch each day with a sick baby in my arms. The laundry piled up to Mount Everest height, the dishes remained unwashed, and we ordered takeout more than I preferred. My planner remained shut as I cared for my little one and let go of other tasks.
In those moments of total unproductivity, I faced a choice. Trust God with the unplanned and the unexpected. Or grumble and stress over what was not being done. By God’s grace, I chose the former, but it has not always been my reaction. I’ve been known to cram so many things on my to-do list there was not a moment to spare. “Margin” has, for the most part, been a foreign word in my dictionary. But the older I get and the more life I walk through, the more I realize no perfect planner out there can meet my soul’s deeper needs. The “perfect planner” can document my days, but it cannot deliver my soul like Jesus can.
The Truth About “Perfect”
We cannot live out our days perfectly. This side of the Garden of Eden, we navigate a sin-stained, Satan-ruled world (Romans 3:23; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Though we crave “perfect” and search endlessly to find it, we only come up with nothing when we search for it apart from Scripture.
In the beginning, the world was created by a perfect God, and He called it “good.” Man and woman walked freely in communion and fellowship with their Maker (Genesis 2:25). When they disobeyed God by eating from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil, sin robbed them of freedom and the world has been reeling from the rebellion ever since (Genesis 3). We chase after “perfect” in an attempt to fill the God-shaped hole in our hearts that only Christ Jesus can fill.
A Plan for Redemption
Thousands of years later, our perfect Savior Jesus set foot on earth as God in human flesh. He sought to redeem us from our endless pursuits and sinful captivity. It was through Jesus’ perfect blood, shed on a torture device known as the cross, and his triumphant resurrection, that we can experience freedom from the shackles and dominion of sin. It was God’s “perfect plan” to send His Son to die in our place. Christ triumphed over Satan’s schemes and glorified God's holy name (Romans 3:25–26, 5:6). Jesus is the “perfect planner” we long for in this life—the One who brings life, joy, fullness, and freedom to our days.
Attempting to live out our “perfect” plans apart from God is a vain pursuit. It will lead us to run in exhausting circles. Jesus alone frees us from this futile pursuit! There is no “perfect planner”—though there are some great, useful ones out there. But there is One who perfectly plans our days and is working out all things for His glory and our good (Romans 8:28).
The Perfect Planner
Knowing Christ, the perfect Planner, is what transforms the way we live. When the unexpected comes, we trust in His sovereignty. If the day goes haywire, we rely on His grace. Even when life is imperfect, we look to eternity and remember the reward that is to come. We make our plans then surrender them to God. He alone knows what is best and sees the bigger picture in a way that we cannot.
Solomon wisely put it, “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:1–3). We plan, but God’s ways prevail. Instead of placing our hope in finding the “perfect planner” to organize our days, let’s make our plans and submit them to God to change, fulfill, and establish.
Hope in the Unexpected
Life this side of heaven will not be perfect. Plans will not always go as we desire. The unexpected will come. But ultimately, God is in control of these fleeting moments. His sovereignty over all things comforts and consoles us in this life. Though we live beyond the Garden of Eden, a new Eden is coming that will be our forever home (Revelation 22). This Eden will be perfect, redeemed and renewed, revealing God’s glory forever. As a child of God, knowing His perfect plan through Christ gives us perspective as we use our planners on earth. Though we cannot find the “perfect planner,” we know the One who is, and we can rest in Him all the days of our lives.