Lydia the Goose
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” . . . Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. James 4:13-16
When my kids were in their early teens, we were out canoeing one spring when we found a goose nest with eggs in it. We’d previously had a wood duck for a pet, which was a great experience, so we snatched a goose egg. We took it home, warmed it, hatched it, and raised that goose. It imprinted on my daughter, who named it Lydia after a former babysitter. It was another great experience for my kids, but we learned, after taking the egg home, that this was illegal and punishable by a sizeable fine. We had no idea. We weren’t trying to break the law. We were just doing our own thing when we realized we were in the wrong.
I get that same feeling when I read today’s passage. In it, James chastised planning for the future. If you read that and said, What? – You’re not alone. Every time I read it, I scratch my head a little. What’s wrong with being prepared? Why would James find fault in planning ahead? It’s something we do all the time. It’s something we must do to keep our bills paid, put food on the table, and get our kids through college.
James said it’s not necessarily what we plan for the future. Rather, our failure is in how we plan for the future. He said that we must continuously seek, not our own will and designs, but rather God’s will and design. What do I want to do tomorrow? – Is very different than, What does God want me to do tomorrow? One life is pointed at self and the other life is pointed at God.
The problem is that most of us don’t even realize we’re doing it. We’re just going about, managing our lives, not necessarily seeking anything evil. We’re simply living, working, and paying bills. Like my kids and me in the canoe, we’re just doing our own thing. To this, James said, You’re doing it wrong. Created by the father, we’re made to follow his plan, not our own. So, today, and every day, our job as Christians is to look, not to our own will, but to go to God, honestly asking, What do you want me to do? How do you want me to live? This is a life pointed at God instead of self. And that makes all the difference.