Making Plans

Jane Olson

READ : James 4:13-17

Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (v. 15)

My parents remember the letters that used to follow announcements in the church bulletin: “The church picnic will be next Saturday, DV. “DV” stood for Deo volente, “God willing.”

Though it now seems quaint, that abbreviation shows a godly humility about our ability to plan for the future. It's an attitude we should remember when we look ahead.

It's not wrong for Christians to think ahead—consider the advice Joseph gives to Pharaoh in Genesis 41. The problem is when we believe we can guarantee our security through shrewd planning. For those who place too much trust in themselves, James gives this warning: “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” (v. 14).

The precariousness of our lives can throw us into panic. But faith takes comfort in God's providence. That's why all of our plan-making should bear this qualifier: “If the Lord wills.” Remembering this demonstrates that we are placing our ultimate security in the sovereign God, in whose hands are all future outcomes. Once we establish that God has the final say, then we can say with confidence, “We will live and do this or that.” We have the freedom to dream with abandon because we know that “not a hair can fall from [our heads] without the will of our Father in heaven”(Heidelberg Catechism).

PRAYER

Lord, I put my trust in you, not in my plans.