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.” (James 4:13-15)

…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

If we’re to submit our lives to what God brings about, how are we to plan? To get my head around this, I had to ask myself a few questions. How will anything get done if we don’t dream, if we have no desires of our own? How does anything get invented? How do things happen in the community, how do we decide our careers, learn to play the piano, or even decide what sort of car we will drive? In fact, how would anything get done, except by people legitimately deciding they want something?

Yet setting goals for myself seems self centred, because it’s about something I want to do.

My day is filled with such things: what’s the balance between chasing dreams and seeking what God desires? This isn’t as clear-cut as it seems. Are we just supposed to sit around like a bump on a log and wait for God to yell in our ears? It’s easy to over-spiritualize these things and to do nothing without “hearing from God”, just it’s also easy to go the other way, and not take God into account at all.

Here’s some thoughts:

– First, be aware of the sort of things God desires. Read His word; get to know Him, pray, understand His character. It’s hard to know God if you won’t talk to Him and read what He has to say to you.

– God made you with your interests and talents. But their use needs to take God and others into consideration.

I hate having my plans frustrated. I really really do. I’m by nature a dreamer and a planner, and I have all kinds of great ideas I’m just itching to put into action. When I have a job to do, the last thing I want is someone else telling me how to do it, or some roadblock getting in my way. I get impatient with people who just don’t get it when I’m trying to get a point across; and when too much of this happens, I get angry. And if I’m still held up, I start to pout, and then I get depressed. I feel a rage building up in myself, I fume and stomp and snap and grouse at whoever is handy. Hardly the peaceful life of one of Christ’s followers.

We talk so glibly about making Him Lord of our lives. I wonder sometimes if I ever really knew what that really meant: to give up my “right” to getting my way; to take what comes in a spirit of thankfulness to God. Maybe I need to make room for a little more… chaos in my life. Maybe what I Want To Happen isn’t that important; the sun will most assuredly rise tomorrow morning, regardless.

Stay tuned for part 2!