It’s a good reminder. Every time I come across it when reading James, it causes me to pause and reflect, and remember, and relive the truth that we “do not know what tomorrow will bring.” And so, says James, it’s so important to put our plans under the right umbrella.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15 ESV)
The problem isn’t that we have plans . . . it’s that we lose perspective. We set our course but forget that God establishes our steps (Prov. 16:9). And so we’re surprised when things don’t turn out as we thought they would . . . or they take a turn we never anticipated . . . or we find ourselves out-of-balance because “our will be done” has become our de factor operating mode.
But if we were to heed . . . if I were to heed James’ exhortation more consistently, how much would that help in putting the right things in their right place?
If all my plans . . . all my ambitions . . . all my desires were under the umbrella of “If the Lord wills” . . . how much freedom and balance would that create?
First, I’m recognizing that, when all is said and done, it’s all about the Lord’s will. It’s about His plans . . . His purposes . . . what He seeks to accomplish . . . all about His glory. My plans are placed within the context of all that I know He has purposed. I don’t want anything on my “to do” list that isn’t on His. I don’t want any of my priorities to trump that which He has already let me know are on His “top ten.” And then, when my plans play out . . . because it was in His will . . . He gets all the glory and praise.
Second, my life is lived under the great “IF.” I don’t know what tomorrow will bring . . . I am but a mist that appears for a little time . . . thus I am to hold things loosely . . . and live, by His grace, in such a way that at the end of the day, if there be no tomorrow, there is a contentment and a confidence (not an arrogance) that I have done my day under the umbrella of His will.
Four simple words that I would do well to add to the end of more of my sentences. Four single-syllable words that place my life on earth within the grander scheme of His work in heaven.
“If the Lord wills.” That’s the right umbrella.
Living under His grace . . . living for His glory.
Time to get ready and go to work . . . if the Lord wills.