“Instead, you should say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’” (CSB – Read the chapter)
What are your plans for tomorrow? Do you have any? I do. How firm are those plans? How much are you depending on those plans? The fact is, we all make plans. Even the most free-spirited person still has some vision of what tomorrow ought to bring. And when we make plans, we generally hold to them fairly tightly. In fact, we’re sometimes tempted to stake our hope on them. That’s a problem.
The truth about the future is that we don’t know it. No person does. We make predictions and assumptions based on the past and the present, and depending on the reliability of our data, those are often very accurate, but still, we don’t know. Anything could happen. Some things are more likely than others, but anything logically possible is possible (and we don’t always extend logical possibility as far as we should because we don’t have access to all the data).
That being said, it is wise to plan. In fact, in other places, like Proverbs, we are explicitly encouraged to make wise plans for the future. If we just sit back and always take life as it comes, we will be caught unprepared for whatever it brings. Sometimes that won’t be such a big deal, but more often it will be. Making those predictions is not only wise, in some instances it is vital.
For instance, as a parent, I know that my kids are going to want to eat dinner three months from today. As a result, I will go to work today and pursue my current vocation in order to earn a wage that I can use to purchase the food they will eat. I’ll do it tomorrow too. And the day after that and the day after that. And, sure enough, at the appointed time, I will receive that wage. When I do, I’ll put it in the bank in order that when I have need for it to buy food for them in three months it will be available.
But, do you see how quickly making plans for the future went to assuming on those plans? Do you see how easily we can go from hoping to expecting? Because, again, the truth is that we don’t know. There is one who does, though.
God knows what the future will bring. How exactly that works nobody knows with any certainty and I don’t want to try to go into the possibilities here except to say this: God knows not only what every possible future is, but every possible path that could lead to them. The point is that He knows. He has a plan and His plan is going to come to pass. What’s more, we don’t have any control over it. We can interact with it in wise and unwise ways, and those choices will have meaningful consequences, but we don’t have control over the outcome. For that, we trust in Him.
This is the thing about planning: All of our plans are subject to His. To think otherwise is foolish to the extreme. It makes an idol out of our plans and relegates God to our servant. That never works out to our advantage. More than even that, such an approach to life runs contrary to reality. We can’t live like that for long with running into reality’s walls. One more thing: Making and assuming on our own plans for life is to put our faith in ourselves and not God. That’s no way to live.
Instead, as James says, we should make all our plans subject to His. Better yet, we should seek His in exchange for our own. Even better than that, we should work (with His help) to bring our plans into alignment with His. Then we will always be able to pursue and enjoy our heart’s desires. Let us always make sure we are pursuing Him and His ways in all we do. That is the road that will lead to life.