13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into this or that town and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14 You do not know about tomorrow. What is your life like? For you are a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishes. 15 You ought to say instead, “If the Lord is willing, then we will live and do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast about your arrogant plans. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows what is good to do and does not do it is guilty of sin. James 4:13-17 (NET)
Like many pastors, I have a day on my calendar marked, “Write sermon.” This appointment that I’ve made with myself is one that I too rarely keep. Something always comes up. I go to bed at night, thinking ahead to what I will accomplish the next day, but I often wake up to something that needs my attention instead: car trouble, leaking pipes, unexpected calls, and plain old writer’s block.
Isn’t this just how life is? We make plans, but we cannot control the future.
James warns us not to talk about our plans for the next year because we don’t even know if we will survive the night. James offers us a new way of speaking about our hopes and dreams: “If it is God’s will, we live and do this or that.” I know people who use just such language, but I also suspect that James may be utilizing hyperbole. So I’ll remember this: my plans are always tentative, and I have to trust in God because I don’t have as much control over the world or my life as I imagine I do.
Hymn: “I know who holds tomorrow”
Prayer suggestion: Lord, tomorrow is yours; help me trust that you are in control.
Published in Fall 2018 edition of Fruit of the Vine