Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
When I was in college, I had a professor who would always say things like “I’ll see you all next week, God willing” or “God willing, we’ll get through this chapter today.” He told us that he’d adopted the habit by taking to heart the words from the book of James. In today’s text, we see that James reminds readers that God is ultimately in control of what happens in our lives, and that we should remember in all our plans and intentions that this is the case.
I’m a planner and a dreamer. I like charting out all the things I’ll get done in a day or a week or a season of life. I also like dreaming up my future, and I can tend to let my expectations get carried away sometimes, anticipating something to go a certain way and then getting easily disappointed.
Every once in a while, I remember my professor’s—and James’s—advice. God willing, I will do these things that I intend to do. If the Lord wills, I will follow through on these plans of mine. If God allows, I will achieve these goals. Sometimes, things get in the way of our plans. Sometimes, these things are catastrophic, and sometimes, they are minor inconveniences or small distractions that pile up. Other times, God may simply have something different in store. We all know life doesn’t go how we intend it to.
I’m encouraged that James does not tell us not to make plans. Plans are important, and he seems to agree. But it’s a great reassurance as well as a reminder of humility to remember that, in the end, God is in control of our lives’ outcomes. What we are given is a blessing and a gift. May we plan our lives with the Lord in mind.
Something to Think About:
What would it look like to surrender your plans to God today?
Something to Do:
Practice saying “if it is the Lord’s will” or “God willing” when talking about your plans. See how that shapes how you view God’s presence in your life.
Lord, we know that as you hold our lives in your hand, you also hold our plans for the future. Remind us to plan with you in mind. Grant us a spirit of humility, that recognizes that you are ultimately in control. And if you will it, have us reach the end of the day having done what we have set out to do. Amen.