This week, we look at James 4:13-16.
“Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.
When I go to write these postings, I study the verse, I think about the context of how it is meant in the Bible, and then I apply my life’s filter over the verse and make my entry a personal account of how that scripture applies to me. I do that in the hope that it will, in turn, force you to look at your life…and more importantly, how your life lines up to the scripture.
But, let’s be real, this one is tough. I try to get closer to God each and every day. I try to know the heart of God, a little better than I did yesterday, each and every day. Yet, when it comes to my daily application of the wisdom in the Book of James, I struggle. I have been involved with my profession since 1997, and since that time I have become fairly proficient at what I do…or at least I’d like to think. A result of those years of experience is an inflated belief level in my abilities…in other words, I have grown confident. That confidence is misplaced. Why? Because, while experience in my field has helped me, without the blessing of our Lord, I would not be able to accomplish whatever I set out to achieve.
Now, that’s at a micro level, so if we blow it up a bit it becomes even more humbling. Think bigger than work, think at the level of your life overall. You, undoubtedly, have something that you want to accomplish at some point in the future. Whatever that is, you probably have a goal, or a plan of attack, in terms of how you will get from “here” to “there”. So, when you think about that goal…and what you would do to get there, isn’t a little humbling to think that without the Lord’s blessing upon us, we will not make it. No matter how hard you work, or what sacrifices you make, if it’s not of the plan of our Lord, then it simply will not happen. While that may be something you’d rather not hear, it’s the flip side of that message that can give you peace.
No matter how out-there your “something” is that you want to accomplish, it doesn’t matter that you do not have the skills, or abilities, or means, or knowledge…of how to do it. All that matters is that God is involved. Looking back over the course of human history in the modern era, you can find many brilliant ideas that would have worked and been successful, but didn’t. You can also find many things that worked and became very successful, even though it didn’t fit the mold for what a successful product would look like. It’s really awe-inspiring to think that behind all of it, is the gentle guiding hand of God.
When you think about your life…and your accomplishments to date, the biggest mistake we can make is to think that we’ve done it by yourself. We need to be very cognizant of where we are, what we have, and how our Lord has blessed us. We all have different stories, different lots in life, different viewpoints on what success is…but the common denominator through it all, is that our Lord has been behind each and every victory. Maybe even more eye opening? He has also been there through each and every loss. Victory is always easier than loss, but knowing that it is part of God’s plan, even though we may not understand it at the time, can give us a deeper comfort in our losses, and a stronger confidence in our wins.
When I think of a success, I think of someone who thinks they have done it themselves. When someone says they are blessed, however, they are being unselfish in their gratitude for where they are in life. While the Bible makes it clear, time and time again, how God feels about living selfishly, it also gives us more than enough reasons to live selflessly.
My journey, wherever I have been, and wherever I am going, has been given to me by our Lord. It is my prayer that we, no matter how much we think we have contributed to the cause, always remember to give thanks for what we’ve been given.
Thanks for reading…and have a great week.
Eric J. Wasson