My wife Diann gave me the idea for the following reflection concerning the pandemic of the coronavirus and how it’s changed how we view the future. I want to give her credit because I’m “staying home” with her, “sheltering-in-place” with her or however you want to put it, and so I DO NOT WANT her to be angry with me!
She was sharing with me how we’ve always known we can’t predict the future and that our plans are always subject to change, but that we’ve never known that to be as true as we do now! So many of our plans, most of our plans, have been dramatically changed because of the pandemic in a way that’s never happened before.
Before the pandemic we gave mental assent and lip service to the fact that the future is unpredictable, but we hadn’t grasped that truth in a heartfelt way as we have in this pandemic of the coronavirus. We planned graduations, weddings, vacations, sports events, and other major life events not giving much thought that we might not be carrying through on those plans.
My mother would often conclude a reference to what she was planning with the phrase “the Lord willing.” Being my mother’s son I have often done the same. From here on out, when I use the phrase, I’m going to be putting more meaning into it!
This new respect for the future’s unpredictable nature puts us in a better position to relate to God in a more appropriate way! God is the one who is ultimately in charge of the future, not us. God is the one who knows the future before it happens, not us. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
When we insist that we can manage our future from the present, that we’re in control, we deny God’s sovereign rule. One of the keys to having a healthy, maturing, and deepening relationship with God is to recognize His right to have ultimate control over our life. That not only means yielding to His will and leadership in the present but yielding the future to Him as well! We shouldn’t look for God to bless our plans for the future but look to being blessed by God’s plans for us in the future!
Does this means we give up making plans? Of course not. God’s designed us to be able to think ahead, to plan. It’s just that it’s all subject to His approval!
As we reflect on all the plans that have not turned out the way we planned, we can turn it into a positive. It can deepen our resolve to be ever ready to yield to God’s ways when they are not the same as our ways, to be open to His will always. I don’t know about you, but that wasn’t something I planned on learning at this particular time!
“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. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.'” James 4:13-15