For the past few weeks, I’ve had to preface my words with “unless Abby goes into labor.” For example, when my brother asked us if we wanted to come over to his house to watch the Super Bowl, I responded, “unless Abby goes into labor, we’ll be there.” Our lives were basically on hold until this baby was born. But now that Emily Grace has made her appearance, I don’t have to use that phrase anymore!
Using this kind of language, though, has made me think about a similar concept talked about in the book of James. James wrote, “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.” (James 4:13-17).
Just as I had been prefacing my plans with “unless Abby goes into labor,” James tells me to preface my plans with “if the Lord wills.” But why does James call this kind of language “boasting”? It’s because God alone knows the future. When we suppose that we know what will happen tomorrow, we exalt ourselves and pretend that we have some control over what will happen to us. It is a failure to recognize that the Lord is God. So by telling us to say “if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that,” James is reminding us to give God the right to change our plans as He desires.
Certainly James did not mean for me to merely repeat a script any time I talk about something I would like to do. Rather, I should always consider any plans that I make (even if, as they should be, the plans that I make are according to God’s Word) to be tentative in light of not knowing God’s ultimate plan.
I don’t have to say “unless Abby goes into labor” for awhile anymore, but I should never presume to know what will happen tomorrow, and always give God His rightful place of authority and guidance in my life.