July 28, 2014
I’m seldom – if ever – enviable, but today takes the cake.
Today and tomorrow, I’m in a crucial lockdown-mode, in an undisclosed, secure location. My task: plan 2015.
Over 100 weekdays – avoiding local school breaks – I’ll be leading sessions for The Master’s Program. Board meetings and special events for 14 organizations I serve in that capacity. Participation in team events with our Collaborative partners – National Christian Foundation, Ronald Blue & Co., Convene – as they occur. Sabbath time with my wife and family – individually, and collectively. All of that in cities spread across the USA, integrated with flight schedules allowing me to invest my evenings “repositioning” (changing cities while most folks are changing channels).
I exchanged messages with a friend/board member this morning; I texted a picture of my 2015; Draft #1. His response: “I don’t even have September organized. How sad is that?”
My life – and, its commitments – have a high degree of complexity built-in. The clubs we use as venues for TMP are great, but have rigid limitations. The city clubs have weekly/monthly standing dates for local groups that we must avoid; country clubs are generally closed on Mondays. Airline schedule changes can become a nightmare…
For most folks, their weekday life plan just says, “Go to the office.” If they have anything on the calendar months-out, it’s a special vacation that has captured their heart. The internet push made them planners: “Five days left for the special early booking discount!” got to them. Their position in the company may be eliminated by then, but their personal holiday plans are now reserved with a non-refundable deposit…
Some people just run for cover, in the shadow of James 4: “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…” (v 13-14). Why waste the time planning, when you can’t forecast the circumstances that are still future? Does that mean that God doesn’t want us to come up with strategies for the things we’ll be doing beyond the horizon of certainty? Why waste time planning?
He continues: “…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 in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” (v 15-17).
James had a pretty amazing chance to see how God operates, in practical terms: he grew up as the younger half-brother of Jesus, in Nazareth. He didn’t know until after the Resurrection how much more than an older-brother Jesus really was. Like a late reveal in a masterfully-written mystery, the Discovery of Deity made so many things make sense, to James. He watched Jesus – the Man who was God – go about life in the most purposeful – and, planned – manner imaginable.
His addition to inspired Scripture reminds us that planning is bogus unless it factors God’s control into the formula: putting plans in play without deferring to God’s sovereign right to amend, redirect or delay the entire scheme is a fool’s mission.
The footnote he adds to the paragraph is telling: “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (v 17). In context, James is explicit: if I know that I should be doing some good things (note: “good” and “God” are joined-at-the-hip), and have no plans to do them… it’s sin.
Don’t try to reach me the next couple of days: I’m planning some good things that God can choose to override. If He doesn’t, I’m going for it. To not plan good things is a sin I can avoid…