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." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. (James 4:13-17 NIV)
I looked up these verses in James 4 to laugh at myself about my week that, by Friday, did not AT ALL look like I thought it would on Monday morning. A day of puttering around the house finishing up some work assignments, punctuated with holiday baking and a leisurely trip to the gym turned into all morning at the doctor's office getting a 9 year old wrist x-rayed, an afternoon of chasing paperwork, and an evening of basketball practice with a grand finale of my 8 year old son and me pushing my disabled SUV out of the middle of the road. My day and week did NOT go as I had planned.
I turned to these verses to remind me that two thousand years ago, James said, "I told you so!" But, I didn't exactly get a warm fuzzy laugh from all of these words. I did laugh at the American Standard Version of verse 15: "For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall both live, and do this or that." What a nice reminder that not only are we not guaranteed to do what we want on this earth, we aren't even guaranteed to be breathing! Remember, only if the Lord wills it, you will BOTH live AND do what you plan. A double blessing I rarely acknowledge.
Verses 16 and 17 are what really get me, though: "As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil." My natural reaction is to argue — my parents will tell you that it should not be shocking that I will even argue with scripture: "I am NOT boasting! I'm just planning. I like to be prepared. I like to have my day planned!" But that little voice — that I believe to be the Holy Spirit — whispers to me: "There is no room in your plans for God's will. You have filled your schedule entirely too full to listen to His bidding. Do you really think that YOU are in charge of your schedule? That's boasting."
Verse 17 — what's THAT about? Why is it right there in Scripture? "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." Ouch. It's probably right there because God's bidding, that I am too busy to hear or see, is the good that I ought to do and don't take time to do. People cross my mind that I should visit and with whom I should pray, phone calls I should make go unmade, errands for others that I know need to be done are left not done. The good I know I ought to do hasn't been done. This is a bad idea, no doubt, but a sin? Yes, a sin. I must confess.
I looked up this Scripture to smile at God's majesty. He stepped on my toes!
Father, forgive my boasting as if I have control of my day, life, and schedule. Gently lead me to daily lay my life at your throne and listen to Your direction. And, Lord, forgive my heart that is intent on my busy-ness, and too distracted to see the hurting around me. I have become a religious leader on the road to Samaria, skirting the wounded souls in my path so that I may be about my own business. Continue to lead me in Your way, simplify my life, and open my eyes to Your will and Your children.