Race to the finish
what happens when our plans get in the way of God’s?
What are you going to do tomorrow? Next year? For the rest of your life?
We spend a lot of our time planning our life, whether that be short or long term, wishing, dreaming, about the future. It’s good, and sometimes easy to plan, not to waste our time hiding from the future (see Sam’s blog!) but what happens when our plans get in the way of God’s? How do we work out which plans are of us and which of God? How do we avoid racing to the finish without noticing the road we're running on? Jesus is pretty clear on this and not particularly gentle!
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.
life here on earth is not worth the worry and plans we give to it if they are not in made in light of Christ
Basically - when it comes to the bigger picture (eternity through grace), your life here on earth is not worth the worry and plans we give to it if they are not made in light of Christ. In the 'Putting God first' articles we learn about putting God at the foundation of everything we do. This includes everything that we will ever do. If our plans are not rooted in and guided by God, if they are not given up to God then they are futile. So how do we start doing this? James carries on to tell us in verse 15: “Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
How do we stop our own plans getting in the way of God’s?
Give your plans to the Lord in prayer. When thinking about the future remember that if it is His will it will be His way. As we fall into daydreaming about our future jobs, relationships, livelihood, turn those thoughts to prayer. Pray that you are honouring God in those things. This can feel really tough, to put our futures into someone else's hands, but remember that they are being put into the hands of God, the creator of all things and the master of the past, present and future.
How do we know what plans are ours and what are God’s?
These are good things but is it what God desires of you?
Now some things are obvious. If you desire to become a corrupt manager of a company it is unlikely this is of God. No buts about it, however in some cases there’s a grey area. Say you want to be a doctor, or in full time ministry. These are good things, perhaps even great things to do, but is it what God desires of you? What are your motives? This is where it gets tricky.
This is where our faith needs to be kicked up a gear and we need to learn to trust Him. So as you pray, listen. Listen to God, listen to the counsel of others and listen to your heart. Twice in the Psalms it says ‘God will give you the desires of your heart’ (Psalm 37 and Psalm 20) and we often quote this to one another. However, in both cases here the verses are surrounded by worship and delight in God. When we are in relationship with God, worshipping Him and communicating with Him our desires will start to fall in line with His. Just because your heart is set on something now doesn’t mean God won’t change it the more time you spend with Him. This can be a scary prospect but God knows you and will do this gently if He needs to, often in a way you won’t even notice, so start to listen and you may find your desires have changed.
How do we avoid racing to the finish without noticing the road we're on?
Our sole purpose upon this earth is to be in relationship with God and to glorify him in all we do.
So as mentioned earlier... Verse 14 says ‘What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes’. If our lives are lived in plans and without thought as to the present then what does it matter anyway? Our sole purpose upon this earth is to be in relationship with God and to glorify Him in all we do. This intrinsically involves being a part of his mission on earth.
If we are continuously living in the future then our future will not be one that is lived for God. Living in relationship with God means living in the here and now. As C.S. Lewis points out ‘the present is the moment when time touches eternity’. God is a God of the present and if we want to know Him, we know Him now; we don’t plan to know Him in the future. It is likely that God is teaching you stuff right now to use now. There's no need to wait to get a little older, or for that job or husband/wife you desire in order for God to work in your life. Slow down, look around you, what is God asking of you right now? Pray, seek God in your future plans and trust Him to look after you as you give them to Him, and with that in mind concentrate on obeying and glorifying Him today.
This is not an article in which I am suggesting the future is not to be planned, or thought about, but it's some of my thoughts as to how we rely on God as King of our lives. He gave us relationship with Him, and He will guide us, prompt us, poke us and sometimes slap us! Let's not live in the future, but live for today asking God about tomorrow.