Looking back is easy. At least, it’s easier to see what God was doing when we look back in time than it is to guess what He will do in the future. There have been so many times in my life when what I was doing at the moment did not make sense. I would ask the Lord what He was doing. I would ask what He was trying to teach me. Many times I would say to the Lord, “If you will just tell me what the lesson is, I will gladly learn it and accept it, and then we can move on.”
But too often, I did not even know what I was supposed to learn. All I knew was that God was at work. I knew this mainly because it was what I had heard from so many pastors and evangelists in my life. I knew God was working on me somehow, but I was confused. I was dazed. I was frustrated and ready to give up, because I just could not understand what was happening.
After some time passed, things were much clearer. Sometimes, it would be the next day. Other times, years went by before I could look back and understand what God was trying to teach me or do in me or for me. Looking back is much easier than looking a dilemma in the face and wondering what in the world God is doing. Even worse is wondering, What should I do?
As a pastor, I hear this question often. People will come into my office and spill their guts, telling me everything that is going on in their lives. They give me every detail of every situation, and then, after a long time, they finally take a breath and say, “What should I do?” These conversations revolve around everything under the sun. Should I leave my husband? Should I take this job or stay where I am? Is God calling me into ministry? It goes on and on. Tomorrow seems like such a mystery. And trying to figure out what we should do_whether in certain situations or for the direction of our lives_can be frustrating.
What is tomorrow? What should it be? What should it look like? What does God say about tomorrow? The questions of relationships, career, family, and church can be so difficult. What is God’s plan for your tomorrow, and for all the tomorrows of your life? Let’s consider what the Lord says to us about tomorrow:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:13–17 NIV)
When we first read this Scripture, it is teaching us that we should not worry about tomorrow. It is even teaching that we should not make any plans. However, the Scripture also teaches us that the “noble man makes noble plans” (Isaiah 32:8). So, Isaiah is teaching us that if we are going to be noble, with a desire to live our lives producing fruit, we should make plans. We should consider tomorrow and make plans. How do we reconcile these two different thoughts that seem to contradict one another?
The point of the Scripture in James is that we should not take tomorrow for granted. We don’t know if we are going to be here tomorrow. Haven’t we been shocked and surprised when someone suddenly passes away by sickness or tragedy? Yet in spite of our surprise, the truth is that this is life. There is no guarantee for tomorrow. James was teaching us that tomorrow is not a given, and we should not assume that we will be able to do this or that tomorrow. Instead, we should be making noble plans. We should live each day, making the most of our lives. We should plan lives filled with noble things, compassionate things, excellent things_things that will last even when we have expired.
Young, Lee. Prepare For Greater Things: Understanding God's Plan for Your Life (pp. 4-6). The Journey Publishing. Kindle Edition.
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