God has never yet asked any man to make a plan for Him — never! You will never find anywhere that God says, ‘Please plan My work for Me, please arrange things for Me, please provide Me with a schedule’. God has never done that.
God keeps the plan in His own hands. God designs everything; and mark you, again, the measure of real value from heaven’s standpoint will be the measure in which we are moving in God’s plan, not in our own, in the way in which God has predetermined He should fulfil His purposes.
Not only the goings, and not only the directions, must be of God, but the energy must be the energy of God. That is the pivot of our present consideration. It is the energy of God, and this also makes a big and very deep discrimination. Our energies, as such, will never accomplish anything eternal. Let us settle that. We start on that side, and come to the other side in a moment. Our driving force, our strength of will, our strong-mindedness, our determination, our forcefulness, in itself, will get nowhere in eternal things. We admire people who overcome many difficulties, who accomplish great things, and especially who overcome the handicaps of human life, by sheer force of will. Yes, that is heroism, in its own realm to be admired, but never let us think that we are going to accomplish anything of eternal, heavenly value by force of will, by our own energy of mind, soul or body. Not at all! The Lord Jesus had tremendous energy, but He drew it all from above. It was all the energy of the Holy Spirit by whom He was anointed, and that is borne out overwhelmingly by the whole teaching of the New Testament.
Saul, the persecutor, was a man of tremendous will. The driving force of that man was terrific. He was a dynamic force amongst men, and what Saul of Tarsus determined no one would withstand but God. He was a man like that. But what does Paul say about himself, and what did Paul have to learn all through his life? This very thing – “I can do nothing of myself”. He came to the point, to the wonderful height of spiritual attainment, where he said, “I will not glory, save in my weaknesses” (2 Cor. 12:5). “Most gladly… will I… glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may tabernacle upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9). That is rising very high. It was one of his life lessons, that, with all his natural drive and force, power of will, of mind, nothing was accomplished in that way, by that means. It had to be something coming down like a tent and then enfolding, enwrapping him, so that he was moving within the sphere of another mighty energy that he called “the power of Christ”. He spoke of himself as being insufficient, wholly insufficient, for these things; he cried, “Who is sufficient…?” (2 Cor. 2:16). And he answered, “Our sufficiency is from God; Who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant” (2 Cor. 3:5,6).
The real effectiveness of that man’s life, which was by no means a passive or negative life, came from heaven. It was not because Paul was such a forceful man, with such a tremendous will – so energetic that he could never stop going. No. He put it all down to one thing, when he summed it up like this: “according to the power that worketh in us” (Eph. 3:20). Here is another energy which is responsible for all things. There were certainly many times in the life of Paul, as no doubt also in the life of the Lord Jesus, when he could not have gone on, when he would have just had to give up in sheer exhaustion, under a “sentence of death”. But how many times did this servant of God rise and go on when it was humanly impossible! The energy is the energy of God, not the driving force of man.