Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
- James 4:15
In the last two days we’ve seen how James encouraged his readers to discipline our talk about the future. We shouldn’t boast about our plans as if we were in full control over our own lives. We shouldn’t ignore our impermanence. Well, then, how should we talk about the future?
James doesn’t encourage his readers to ditch their considerations about the future. He’s not some “throw your hands in the air and just trust God” fatalist. No, he encourages his readers to make plans. He just encourages them to add an additional clause.
Let’s call this the “Will Clause.” James gives us permission to plan as long as we attach the Will Clause to our plans. The Lord is free to exert his will on any and all of our plans. We will hold our plans loosely and submit to his will. Ultimately, we want to want what he wants.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed a prayer that ended just like this: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” He made his request (“may this cup be taken from me”) but he added the Will Clause (“as you will”). In his divine deference, Jesus submitted his will to his Father’s, showing tremendous trust and faith.
So make your plans. Plan a summer vacation. Plan your career and your retirement. Plan to grow your business or your family or your church. But attach a Will Clause.
Acknowledge the goodness of God’s will and his freedom to call us to align with him even if we don’t understand him as we walk into the future together.
May his kingdom come and his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.