When I spotted some fresh tracks last week, I determined that they had been made by a fairly large red deer, almost certainly a male. So I worked out where he would be lying down for the day, then I planned my evening ambush. After I sat motionless for almost 2 hours, he made his appearance. Stepping out from the woods, he came to within 8 yards of me. The only problem was that he came directly behind me! As soon as he caught my scent on the wind, he disappeared like a ghost. My carefully conceived plan had come so close to working, but in the end it counted for nothing.

As the king of Persia’s cupbearer, Nehemiah was a powerful and influential man. He certainly could have spent many hours devising a scheme to help his people—the people of Israel—gain success in their desire to return to rebuild Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:2). However, I don’t think Nehemiah, in his wildest dreams, could have imagined that the king would let him travel to Jerusalem equipped with soldiers, money, and letters of introduction, all for the express purpose of rebuilding the great city! (Nehemiah 2:1-9).

God used Nehemiah’s impressive position and abilities to continue the process of restoring Jerusalem, but what He used most was his servant’s obedience and reliance upon Him. Nehemiah saw the need, but relied completely on the “gracious hand of God” to provide the way of fulfilling that need (Nehemiah 2:8).

It’s vital that our plans reveal that type of reliance. We sometimes settle for partial success, especially when it allows for some personal glory. Instead, may we take our plans to God and seek His wisdom and blessing. Without Him at the center, our plans will surely fail.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Luke 22:1-13