The last week of the year.
A time of reflection. A time of planning. We look back. We look ahead. In fact, January gets its name from the two faced pagan god, Janus, who looked back and ahead at the same time.
James 4:13-17 provides some great advice for us:
“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.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
I hope you have big plans for 2009. I really do. However, I hope you keep them in the proper perspective. The fact is, you cannot control what will happen tomorrow, let alone for all of next year. James is not telling us we can make no plans. Rather, he is telling us to make sure we know that our plans are subject to the Great Day Planner. “If the Lord wills” we will accomplish our plans.
But what if the Lord does not will? Then we must change our plans. If our plans contradict some principle of God’s word, we must change those plans immediately. However, as the year progresses there may be plans that fit perfectly within the biblically revealed will of God, but occurrences and situations cause our plans to fall short. All we can do is accept that God allowed those situations for a reason. He knows better than us and we will adjust our plans to fit with what God has or has not allowed.
What we must recognize is our life is a vapor. We do not even know if we will survive 2009. We cannot, by our own power, assure we will live to accomplish all our plans. Therefore, we need to surrender to God’s will. Instead of boasting in our plans, we need to boast in God’s strength, subordinating our plans to His will.
Finally, if we know the right thing to do, we must do it. Instead of getting caught up in our future plans, we need to live in the here and now doing what we know is the next right thing. If we put off the right thing now, God will not uphold any of our plans for the future. If, on the other hand, we continually pursue the right thing at this moment, God will establish our paths.
So, today and in the days of the new year to come, let’s not boast as if we are in control. Rather, let’s submit to God’s control, subordinating our plans to His will and just do the next right thing.