Planning: Struggle to Complete Plans? Draw Water Daily-Proverbs 20:5

 Plans in the heart of a man

“A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, But a man of understanding draws it out.” -Proverbs 20:5

Often times when I am in the wilderness I reflect on the things we do out there in the wild and how they might relate to life lessons back at home in the city. One of the more common routines that any wilderness traveler has to do daily is collect water from the stream in the morning. I like to boil a pot of water for my group for hot chocolate or coffee each morning. Or maybe we have a long walk to water, so I need to fill my 10 liter MSR Dromedary Bag for the whole group to fill up for their water bottles for the day. And the same routine happens in the evening when you collect water to make pasta for dinner.


A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, But a man of understanding draws it out. –Proverbs 20:5

I have read this proverb many times and meditated on its meaning, but the experience of drawing water in the wilderness gives me some insight. I’m not sure how much of a planner you are, but everyone at some level has to make plans. Maybe you are planning; a career, a semester of school, or even planning out a paper you have to write. Maybe you have planned how to build a house, or a bike, or a wooden canoe. Whatever it is, for things to happen there must be a plan behind it. 

The wisdom of Solomon here reminds us that plans are great, but what makes a great man or woman is the one who can carry out the plan one step at a time. Our plans are essentially like a deep well of fresh water. Our plans are like a cascading stream in the wilderness with so much potential to provide water for weary travelers. Our plans are “deep”, meaning they have incredible potential. But that potential only will be realized if we exercise the wisdom and fortitude day after day to “draw out” the next bucket of water. Taking the next step in your plan is like drawing out the next bladder of water until we bring our plan to fruition.


I have much to learn from this lesson from the wilderness. I have lost count of how many books I have started and not finished. I have projects at home that are unfinished, proposals on my desk that I haven’t started, and lots of ideas and dreams in my mind that I haven’t even bothered to write down and make into a formal plan. God has created each one of us with talents, gifts and strengths. And each one of us has the ability to carry them out, because we are created in the image of God. It pleases God when we make plans that will make a difference in the world. But the lesson we gain from this proverb, and from this experience in the wilderness of having to collect water each day, is that it doesn’t really matter so much what our plans are, what matters is whether or not you and I will draw out a bucket of water from that deep well of our plan each day. The well is useless if we don’t draw out water. And plans are useless if we don’t actively take steps toward accomplishing that plan.


So the next time you’re in the wilderness, waking up really early before everyone else–going down to the stream to collect water, remember that this may be a small act of service, but it is an illustration of a much larger and more profound discipline that God wants us to have in our lives. Through his Spirit let’s ask the Lord today, “What plans do you want me to make Jesus?” And then just like getting water each day, let’s encourage one another to be like the wise man this proverb, and daily draw out a part of that plan until it comes to fruition.

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  • Think about any “plans” that you have made in the past and evaluate if you have left that deep well alone or whether you are consistently drawing out the water step by step. What is stopping you from carrying out your plans to fruition?
  • Spend time in the wilderness looking at a lake or stream and considering all of the potential in that “deep well.” Make the connection in your own mind regarding plans that the Lord has led you to make. Are your plans just full of potential, or are they full of potential AND coming to fruition because you are acting wisely and drawing out that potential by taking regular steps to accomplish your plans?
  • Look around you and your relationships back in the city and think of a few people who might need encouragement to carry out their plans. We all need encouragement to draw out the next bucket.