Allowing for God’s Interruptions.
Read James 4:13-17
“Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
In Proverbs, the sage extolls the virtues of planning. In Proverb 21:5 we read, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.” Plans are important for keeping us from wandering from the direction we need to take. They help in identifying and anticipating potential pitfalls. In college, one of our assigned reading was a book entitled, “If You Don’t Know Where You are Going, You will Probably End Up Somewhere Else” by David Cambell. Good advice. Making plans enables us to filter through what is important and what is not, enabling us to determine what direction we need to take. Certainly, we serve a God who makes plans. The whole Bible is an outline of God’s redemptive plan revealed in history and governing the future.
However, for all the importance that planning has, there is a caveat. In our planning, we can leave little room for God’s interruption. Rather than our planning focusing upon God’s redemptive will for our life, we can supplant God by focusing upon what we want to achieve. This is especially true when our focus shifts from doing God’s will to the attainment of our personal success and financial wealth. The statement in verse 13, “Come now” connects his admonishment to 5:1 where he repeats the same word. It is easy to become focused upon our career and financial security rather than the pursuit of God. Thus, we need a corrective. While there is nothing wrong with planning and setting goals for our careers and financial portfolio, we need to always make sure that these are still subservient to God’s will. Verse 15 serves as a reminder that we must submit to God’s purpose and allow him to interrupt and change our plans when they stray from his. This not only includes our daily plans but our goals and vision for our life. The hardest thing to release to God is our visions and dreams. To hold tight to our dreams is ultimately an act of arrogance and a usurpation of God’s control. It is the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden revisited. Instead of pursuing what God desires (vs 17), we rush headlong in the pursuit of our wishes.
Instead of pursuing our agenda, we are to humbly allow for God’s interruptions. In the pursuit of our goals and plans, we must always pray for, and permit God’s corrective hand as he thwarts our goals in order to rearrange them to correspond to his. This statement is grounded in the truth that we called to be slaves to Christ in which our sole desire is to pursue his will not our own, thus the phrase, “if the Lord wills.” The emphasis is that there will be times in the future when God’s will conflict with ours and when that occurs, we are to submit to him. But this is no easy task, for, in the pursuit of our aspirations, we can become blind to the signs that God is moving us in a different direction. This is what brings us to our daily prayer. At the start of each day, as we make our plans, we are not only to seek God’s blessing upon our activities but prayerfully ask God to redirect us if we start to stray from his will. Prayer begins when we ask that “your will be done in heaven and earth” and in our own life as well. Perhaps a better title for a book is, “If you don’t know where God is directing, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.”