I’ve been thinking about tomorrow a lot.
Not the literal tomorrow, but the future. As in, our future lives.
I’m always looking ahead. I’m in my late thirties, but I’ve got my seventies all mapped out. Every time I explain this to my senior-citizen friends, they laugh at me and then walk away.
I can’t help it! It’s God’s fault – He made me this way. I plan. I strategize. If I’m worried about something, I take action now to avoid the crisis. I don’t just think five steps ahead, I think ninety.
But lately I’ve been wondering if this is the correct way to do life.
Jesus Himself said not to do this. Instead, He said to worry only about today. Honestly, I’ve merely given mental ascent to His advice, but I’ve never considered I would be capable to follow it.
After all, not only was I created a planner, but society agrees with me. The message is everywhere: save your money for retirement. Put on the super-expensive facial sunscreen now so you don’t look 105 when you’re 55. Plan ahead for your next baby. Or grandbaby. Or whatever.
Clearly, the message is: plan.
But this morning as I was conversing with the One who repeatedly tells me to think of the now, He showed me an interesting verse:
This tells me my plans can, and often will, be thrown out the window. This tells me any and every plan I have will be trumped by God’s ultimate will. This tells me I can save, plan, and strategize all day, every day, day after day.
But God has the last say.
Let me tell you my plans: I plan to expand our ministry, write books, study Biblical history, and encourage all Christians to the end. Then be done.
God’s plans for me, however, are very likely much different.
Strangely, I am okay with that. Listen, I don’t want to have to rely on me to plan my life! I wince that I have to plan dinner (every night, too. And they want something different each time. Who can do that?)
We probably should tentatively plan for the future. I don’t believe there’s any harm in saving, investing, planning, or strategizing.
However, the key word is tentative.
All of my plans need to be created under the guise that there’s a good chance life won’t happen accordingly. Financial crises are probable. Illness is likely. Setbacks are guaranteed.
In the topsy-turvy life we’ve been born into, it’s best to realize our tomorrow will likely be much different from what we picture. God will probably take us down a path unlike the one we envision.
And that’s okay! Liberating, in fact. After all, our ultimate responsibility lies only in trusting Him. Which is completely doable!
In fact, I’m starting to love living day-by-day.
You gotta love Jesus. He had this figured out a long time ago, and He tried to hammer it in our heads. Don’t worry about tomorrow, He said (Matthew 6:34). God knows what you need (Matthew 6:32). Pray to Him. Send your anxiety Heaven-bound (Philippians 4:6). Don’t keep it in your gut, lest it start burning a hole in your stomach.
I’ve got this, He said.
If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to tell you a story about when I planned my life, and how it ultimately turned out.
When I was in my mid-twenties, I began working in an IT job with a promising future. My plan was to work my way up in the organization and ultimately retire at a young-ish age, then enter ministry full time.
In fact, I even knew which job I wanted, and the person holding the position was close to retirement age. I had it all worked out!
So I did everything to make these plans succeed: I worked hard, made the right choices, and all that stuff you need to do.
However, after ten years, everything changed dramatically in my organization. Things were turned upside down, backwards, and inside out. I was startled, but still knew I had it in the bag.
Then, the person who held the job I desired retired. Finally, it was my turn. I filed my application, knowing the job was mine.
However, due to all the dramatic organizational changes, I didn’t get it!
I was perplexed. Something that I felt was rightfully mine – that I had planned and worked for ten years to obtain – was given to someone else off the street. I didn’t understand.
That was about three years ago. After that, God did some serious reworking of my life. Plans got pushed aside, missions and perspectives changed, and today I’m in an entirely different situation.
I didn’t like it, and it wasn’t easy.
However, I can say in absolutely honesty that I’m so glad God’s plans trumped mine. Yes, they are different from my expectation, but they are so much better.
So for today, I’m gonna follow the advice Jesus given me for years – make tentative plans, yes, but focus my main efforts on this day only. I’ll stuff any and all anxiety about the future into my Hefty Bag of Worries and hurl them up to God in Heaven, Whose shoulders are big and wide and strong enough to bear them all. I’ll pass on the Plate of Fret and the Casserole of Concern as I sit peacefully at the Table of Life.
After all, in this ride called Life, none of us are really in the drivers’ seat.
For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end. (Psalm 48:14)
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