In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
– Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)
Think with me about the patriarch Joseph. His brothers had sold him into slavery. It was an unexpected turn, especially in light of the dreams he had recently had. Those dreams foretold his family bowing down to him. Becoming the property of wandering traders didn’t seem to fit the plan. Neither did his years in an Egyptian prison. Had God abandoned him? Were his dreams really just the product of a self-righteous imagination? How could he be so far off track?
Joseph wasn’t off track! The plans of his brothers for harm fit with the plans of God for good. Though everyone involved was quite unaware of God’s hand, their steps were ordained by him. He had seen the whole tragedy ahead of time and wove it into His plan. We’re not sure exactly how His sovereignty operates in the self-will of humanity, but we know that it does. Even when life throws the unexpected at us, it is never unexpected for God. He always has a plan.
That’s hard for us to grasp. Sometimes life seems far off course. We think that circumstances are out of control. But we forget: We are children of God who sees ahead and who has already interwoven His good, sovereign plan with the strange, rash will of human beings. We are not as off track as we think.
If God’s sovereignty applies to the actions of Joseph’s jealous brothers, it certainly applies to our decision-making. We stress over finding God’s will, and it’s important to seek His direction in all things. But if we’ve made that honest attempt and go forward in faith, there’s no sense in turning back and wondering if somehow we missed His perfect plan. He has ordered our steps, even when we weren’t sure of them. Seek God’s will and determine to pursue it, but don’t stress about the steps. He always puts them in order.