Do you have any big plans for next month? Next year? How about long term goals for the next few decades? I think it’s safe to say that most of us are looking forward to and planning for future events, whether vacations, business ventures or retirement. In and of itself, these plans are not a bad thing. In fact, many verses in Proverbs equate planning for the future with wisdom. However, our reading today reminds us of what our attitudes should be as we look ahead to our future. James 4:13-15 says, “Go to now, ye that say, To day or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
The phrase “go to now” is another way of saying, “now listen up”. James then uses the example of someone boasting of the definitive plans they have for the next year of going into a distant city for business purposes. However, James then essentially says, “wait a minute, you don’t even know what’s going to happen tomorrow, much less next year!” And then the familiar reminder, “for what is your life, it is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” While we all know this to be true, it is good to be reminded of this truth frequently. Think about how quickly life is going by? As I write this following the Penn State/Iowa game, the announcers referred back to last year’s classic match-up between these 2 schools. As they did, I couldn’t help but think that I couldn’t believe that game was a whole year ago already. Just like the fog that often forms on cool autumn mornings and then quickly dissipates, so too is our life. As someone who routinely reviews dozens of patient charts on a daily basis as part of my job, including many of those who have just recently passed away, I am reminded on a regular basis of the brevity of life.
So the reminder for us today from James 4 is to go ahead and make our plans, but to do so with a clear understanding of the Sovereignty of God and a submission to the knowledge that He is in control. May we not be arrogant or foolish enough to think that we are in charge of our lives.