You may have reason to fear the year now upon us. What is on the other side of the door? Every person has their allotment of trouble, even among believers. Will there be loss, illness, death, aggravation, perplexity? Will those you love come to distrust you? Will you sin badly, ruining your reputation? Will there be economic trials and anxiety over money? Will you lose your job, or worse, your mind? Will you be hurt deeply? Will you be in constant pain? The circumstances can’t always be in your favor. Perhaps you are overdue for trouble.
We cannot know what is ahead. “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow,” said James, the brother of Christ (James 4:13-17). You simply do not know–cannot know–if this will be your best year ever, or the worst, or somewhere in between with a bias to one side or the other. And, we cannot tell if what seems bad will do a world of good. We know so little as we put one foot ahead of the other.
Imagine the audacity of an ant who ventures onto your kitchen counter making a boast about anything in the future. He may seem sure as he speaks of his plans to his peers back at the ant colony, but what do you think about his aspirations? Why, you might blow him off course with your breath or wash him down into the garbage disposal, or transport him on a piece of lettuce to the compost pile. His plans are important on one level, but will not deter you from yours.
Wise James tells us to say what is true about all this. Instead of resolutely saying that you will accomplish this or that goal during this new year, he instructs us to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” And, he goes on to say, if you know you should speak this way, and don’t, you will sin. Words that express truth matter to God.
All that you or I plan doesn’t mean it will be accomplished–not even the best of plans and the most godly ones. Should we plan? Yes. Should we aspire to something better? Yes, again. Is there godly ambition? Sure. But if we act as though this or that can happen outside of God’s will, we will be out of step with the Master planner. He has a strategy and a use for your life that all of our plans will not avert.
And why should we want it any other way?