It is good set and pursue righteous goals, yet James warns us that planning without leaving room for God's will is arrogant and sinful.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. - James 4:13-17 (ESV)It's easy to see how this applies to big decisions such as pursuing a profession, choosing a spouse, and deciding where to live: make sure God approves of your decision. And in my opinion, that's easy. But Alma takes it a step further.
Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day. - Alma 37:37Alma teaches us that we need to ask God about everything we do. Obviously it can get carried away. A common example I hear in church is that God doesn't are about which socks we wear. But what if one day it did matter. Would we be willing and prepared to listen?
I am reminded of a trip from Spanish Fork, UT to Rexburg, ID. After loading everything into our car, I returned to the house one last time. I was either retrieving an item I had forgotten or making sure that all doors and windows were locked. While in the basement I had a strong feeling that I needed to bring a rope and tarp that I saw on the floor. I deliberated for a short them then concluded, "I don't need it for shelter. We're not camping. If the car breaks down then we still have the car. I see no reason to bring it."
Somewhere near the Utah-Idaho border we saw dark storm clouds ahead. It was obvious that we were soon going to drive through significant downpours. I saw a pickup truck stopped on the side of the road. The passengers were out trying to secure the load. I immediately knew that the rope and tarp was for them, not me.
When I pray in the morning I try to review and counsel with the Lord. After preparing and studying and before working I often pray to make sure I'm still on track. Sometimes everything is okay. But sometimes He wants changes. A couple of weeks ago He asked me to write a letter to someone before working. This morning I knew that I needed to plan on speaking with someone today. I don't know why I need to speak with them, nor why it needs to be today, but I've learned not to question. Counseling with the Lord consistently leads to seemingly insignificant changes to my plans, and I'm always glad I listened.
I am learning that the Lord is willing to play a very active role in our life. If we counsel with Him in all our doings then he really will direct our paths.