This morning I’m hovering over the first part of Ecclesiastes 7 and the last verses of James 4. God has made “the day of prosperity”, says the Preacher, so be joyful. But then immediately Solomon reminds us that God is also the author of “the day of adversity”, and in that day we should “consider.” And of the many things we can be reminded of in the day of adversity, the foremost may be that we don’t know what tomorrow will bring (Eccl. 7:14). Cue James 4 and the warning against the boastful arrogance of talking about tomorrow as if it’s ours to command and direct. Went back 10 years ago in my journal and found these thoughts to chew on again.
Two words. Two words that can be the difference between presumption and proper perspective . . . two words that can ground our earthly lives in the context of heavenly realities . . . two words that can serve to remind us that we are not captains of our own ships but are, in fact, sojourners whose steps are directed by a Sovereign. Two words . . . Lord willing.
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)
I should be mindful to finish more sentences with the two words, Lord willing. Not to exhibit some mindless piety . . . but to remind myself that I have been created by a God who has already recorded all the days He formed for me (Psalm 139:16) . . . to ground myself in the reality that, though I may plan my way, it is the LORD who directs my steps (Prov. 16:9) . . . to sincerely acknowledge that I have been bought with a price and that I am not my own (1Cor. 6:19-20). If spoken mindfully, there’s a lot of foundation setting with “Lord willing.”
Life’s unpredictable . . . amen? Who doesn’t know that? You can go to bed one night and before morning your life is turned upside down . . . the absolutely unimaginable is now your reality . . . the unplanned is now what you have to plan around. So what folly is it to think we are masters of our own destiny? What arrogance to think we can power our way to where we want to go?
Not to say that we don’t set goals . . . or make plans . . . or embark on paths . . . but, as James reminds me this morning, we do so in the context of a sincere, humble “Lord willing.”
For those of us who, by God’s grace, have received the gift of eternal life by faith . . . who have recognized the depth of our need because of sin’s bondage and have seen the redemption and reconciliation offered through Jesus who, on Calvary’s cruel cross, paid the full price for our transgressions . . . for us, we own Jesus not just as Savior . . . not just as Shepherd . . . but as Lord and Master. And while a master might give his bondservant a range of responsibilities and the freedom to steward those responsibilities, at the end of the day it is the master’s prerogative to direct his servant. Thus, whatever plans we make for tomorrow, we do well to remember they are as “the Lord wills.”
Our freedom is not license to go rogue. Our freedom is not to fuel presumption. God forbid that our freedom would allow seeds of pride to germinate which cause us to think that it’s about “our will be done.”
And so, “Lord willing” just becomes smart thinking. “Lord willing” becomes a real-time temperature check on our priorities and planning. “Lord willing” has a way of keeping our eye to the sky as we are reminded that things could change in the twinkling of an eye.
Ok . . . done. Time to walk . . . time to get ready . . . time to go to work . . . Lord willing.
By His grace. For His glory.