Look here, you who say,
“Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.”
How do you know what life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.
What you ought to say is,
“If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.”
Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil. Remember, it is a sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
James 4:13-17 warns against making plans for ourselves instead of submitting to God’s will. This passage was particularly striking for me personally because I have spent hours planning our trip to Japan, telling my brother and husband, “On this day, we will go here and do this.” I might as well have been reading directly from the words that James tells us to avoid!
Of course, we all plan for the future, even those of us who wish to be guided by God. Instead of praying for guidance first in all choices though, we figure God will “let us know” if he has somewhere he wants us to be. As if he couldn’t or wouldn’t use every moment of our lives for his purpose, if only we were open to it!
I remember October 2013. I had just filed for divorce, and realized I’d have to quit my job (my former mother in law, afterall, was my boss). I had lost so many people close to me during the separation process, and now my job, the thing I loved most, the thing that often held me up when I could find no other reason to stand, was going to be lost, too.
It was devastating. But I remember reading in Battlefield of the Mind, from 2 Corinthians 10:4 –
“We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.”
– and taking heart. God had to knock down all that was old and wrong in my life, and I trusted him to rebuild it. So, not knowing where I’d go, or what I’d do, or how I’d make my mountain of student loan payments…. I let it go. I said, “God, like the lilies of the field, I trust you to care for me, and lead me where I need to be.”
I certainly didn’t think that place would be to upstate New York and a new marriage with a beautiful little (ok, big) puppy and sweet little kitty. But I trusted him, and he came through for me in a bigger way than I even could’ve imagined.
So why, now, do I make plans as if I am master of my own destiny? Do I not think that God can and will use me in the everyday and the mundane?
I’m going to leave you with Ecclessiates 7:1-14, which reminds us that our time here is so brief – like the morning fog – and how we spend it so important. How will you choose to spend yours?
A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume.
And the day you die is better than the day you are born.
Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties.
Afterall, everyone dies-
so the living should take this to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
for sadness has a refining influence on us.
A wise person thinks a lot about death,
while a fool thinks only about having a good time.
Better to be criticized by a wise person
than to be praised by a fool.
A fool’s laughter is quickly gone,
like thorns crackling in a fire.
This also is meaningless.
Extortion turns wise people into fools,
and bribes corrupt the heart.
Finishing is better than starting.
Patience is better than pride.
Don’t long for “the good old days.”
This is not wise.
Wisdom is even better when you have money.
Both are a benefit as you go through life.
Wisdom and money can get you almost anything,
but only wisdom can save your life.
Accept the way God does things,
for who can straighten what he has made crooked?
Enjoy prosperity while you can,
but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God.
Remember that nothing is certain in this life.