I was chatting with my daughter last night. She just graduated from Trinity Western University, picked up a nanny job for the summer and has just secured a paid internship with Trinity in their media department. Life can have many adventures, changes and uncertainties, but even good changes can be hard on us.
It reminds me of one of my favorite sections of Scripture in James 4 related to us making plans and what kind of perspective we ought to have in life. We love to make plans because then we chart the changes that are happening. We see them coming, we can anticipate the cost of commitment, and we are excited when it all comes together – we have navigated the process well and we feel successful.
Still, sometimes success gives us an illusion of control that we really don’t have. We live in a world that has absolutes and we have learned that God has granted to us the ability to grasp and understand the invisible world of atoms and protons (to keep it really simple) as well as the vast Universe out there. I just heard a news report the other day that they think they have found water on Mars or something like that. This “knowledge” can dupe us into thinking we are king of the mountain and captains of our own destiny.
That would be a fatal mistake. At least for Christians we know that there are greater influences in our life than just me. Listen to the words of James 4:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.
(James 4:13-17 NAS)
1) “Lord willing” is not an expression we should use when we simply lack commitment to following through on our responsibilities. Some people use this as a “spiritual excuse” for their lack of follow through – a very bad way to use these Scriptures.
2) “Lord willing” is an expression of trust and reliance upon God and a recognition that He shapes the circumstances and results of our commitments.
3) God is the one who has His fingerprints on our life journey. Our arrogance is manifested when we think we are in greater control than God is; as the text indicates.
4) Christians ought to handle change better than anyone if we are truly walking with the confidence that the Lord is the one who directs our paths. That does not mean the uncertainty of even good change won’t impact us and weigh on our hearts. We quote this Scriptural truth: that God directs our path; however, sometimes we don’t buy into the significance of it. We struggle with this when we think God is there to make our plans work rather than trusting Him when He changes our plans.
5) Re-examine how you view God’s work in your life. I find that the people who struggle with these verses the most are those who have a wrong view of God or a dysfunctional view of God’s will. When we have an incorrect view of “why” God is in our life the consequences can become a bit nasty.