Today I came across a snippet of a story in the middle of the preaching and proclamations of Jeremiah that I felt was worth giving a little more attention. In chapter 11, the prophet Jeremiah has caught wind of a bit of a conspiracy taking place — some people are plotting to take his life if he doesn’t stop preaching the Word of the Lord.


It seems like Jeremiah is in a bit of a pickle. If he continues speaking the words the Lord tells him to speak, his life is in danger. If he stops speaking, he might spare himself in the short term, but he’ll be disobeying the God that he knows is true and holy.


As I paused to think about his options in that scenario, I was reminded of a commonplace phrase here in South Africa: ‘n Boer maak ‘n plan. This basically translates “a farmer will always make a plan” and speaks about resourcefulness, being independently minded, and being willing to show some resilience and creativity to make a new plan when a situation calls for it.

For example, a few nights ago we wanted to braai (grill out, barbecue, or insert your culturally appropriate description here) but realised at the last minute we were out of charcoal. ‘n Boer maak ‘n plan, the Hubs used firewood to get the braai going, and our steak had a nice and tasty, smoky flavour in the end. Thanks for the great sale, Pick ‘n Pay!

There are a lot of situations in life where we are the Boer (farmer) making the plan. Sometimes that’s a good thing. We’re being resourceful and creative. Other times we are trying to fix a situation in our own strength when we should be trusting the Lord and leaving it in His hands.

Jeremiah could’ve made a plan. Perhaps he could’ve tried to reason with his would-be assassins, or he could’ve written down his preaching and prophecies and distributed them to only people who were interested. Ridiculous, I know. Pre-printing press, who had the time? Maybe he could’ve just skipped town, gone undercover, or asked the Lord for a re-assignment.

Instead, his immediate response is recorded in the next verse:

But, O Lord of hosts,
You who judge righteously,
Testing the mind and the heart,
Let me see Your vengeance on them,
For to You I have revealed my cause. {Jer. 11:20}

His decision was to immediately cry out to the Lord, explain his situation and ask God to justly judge the case. Since he was sure he had God’s goodness and justice on his side, he asked specifically to see the vengeance of the Lord on his enemies.

This simple prayer produced better results than any I can imagine coming from the other options mentioned above: God answered by saying he would punish them. He basically promised that Judgement Day was about to come early for the men of Anathoth who’d been plotting against the Lord’s homeboy Jeremiah. Sweet.

It’s easy to smile and move on from that story without pausing to see how it might apply to our lives today. But one clear application is that ‘n Boer maak ‘n plan isn’t always the best plan. We should bring our concerns to God — even if those concerns are pit-less olives compared to Jeremiah’s big pickle.

Our good, just and loving God is often waiting on us, ready to move if we just ask. If we’re too busy trying to find solutions in our own strength, we might miss the divine resolution the Lord is ready to enact on our behalf.

The Sermon in a Nutshell: ‘n Boer maak ‘n plan, but the Lord maak ‘n beter plan.