“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, ESV)
We can get a lot out of the passage above. If you don’t do what you know is right, it is sin. Our lives are a vapor. We should not boast as we have no idea what tomorrow will bring. There is a lot packed into this passage and the entire book of James.
One thing I have learned since getting married is this: “We have no idea what’s coming.” We can make plans, assumptions, and have a timeline in our minds, but we simply don’t know how it’s really all going to shake out. We don’t know how our spouses will change. We don’t know what new pursuits will interest us. We can’t predict extreme joy or extreme pain. If we boast in what we will accomplish, we are indeed arrogant. We are not in control.
We can read the passage above and let it weigh us down – or we can read it with excitement in knowing that God is in control! We love believing we are in control of our lives. It excites us to think that if we follow the “right” path, we will arrive at the destination we have always wanted. Some get close to what they planned; whereas others find themselves on a completely different path wondering how on earth they got there. (For instance, who, growing up, ever planned to be a financial aid administrator… ice cream parlor owner… professional blogger…)
Never Say No to God
When I was fifteen, my best friend and I attended a writer’s workshop taught by two young adult authors. One of them said something I will never forget. He originally wanted to be a dentist, but he walked through the doors God opened for him and ended up leading an abundant life he could not have dreamed up on his own. The only lesson I specifically remember from the workshop is this: “If you want an exciting, adventure-filled life, never say no to God.”
It’s true; we do not know what is coming. We do not know what God has in store. That leaves us with a choice: We can do whatever it takes to traverse our own path, or we can open our minds and arms and say, “Not our will, Lord, but Yours be done.”
Please understand that I’m not suggesting you should sit on your couch without a plan and wait for God to open doors – not at all. It’s great to dream. It’s important to work towards goals. We should use the gifts and talents we have and pursue those careers and ministries which interest us. The problem comes when those dreams become idols we are not willing to surrender if God opens different opportunities.
When Eric and I were dating, we planned to finish graduate school, counsel together, and then eventually I would become a stay-at-home mom. From the first few weeks of marriage until now, it has been a whirlwind. Some of our plans have worked out as expected; whereas, others have not. We did finish school (though he and I had very different experiences with it) and we do work together with couples, but not in the way we originally thought we would. And I am not a stay-at-home mom, but I do have the privilege of working from home.
Some days I feel angry for not getting the life I always wanted… and then I remember that God does not owe me anything. Every day is a blessing. He has not rolled out the red carpet and granted my every longing; yet, He has never left my side. He has opened doors I would never have found on my own. He has allowed me to meet people I would have never met without His leading. I am not living the life I always wanted; but, in many ways, it is even better.
What’s your plan? Are you committed to your blueprint come what may or are you open to the adventures God may have for you? Will you be angry with Him if your life does not turn out according to your design? What about your sweetie? Is he or she determined to chart your relationship’s course – or are you both open to new paths?
Scripture tells us that our lives are but a vapor. With that in mind, what is really important? Making all our dreams come true or fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives? I think the answer is obvious. ~smile~ Our plan may sound exciting, but what we have in store for ourselves cannot hold a candle to what God will do in and through us if we obey Him. Every day won’t be one life-changing escapade after another, but you will be able to look back on your life and see God’s fingerprints all over it. (Wow, look what the Lord has done.)
As you move forward towards marriage and an abundant life, we encourage you to live with your arms wide open. See what adventures God has in store for you!
Are you fully committed to your plan, or are you excited to follow whatever path God sets for you?