James 4:14, “…you do not know what tomorrow will bring.”
We are all blind regarding not only the next day but the next moment…how good, like blind beggars, to cling to our merciful Shepherd who ordains every step, who sees clearly to the end, and who has paved the path to our final Joy with His own blood.
Longer Thoughts (from this morning’s journal):
A wonderful truth. I just want to sit under this reality for a minute. We do not know what tomorrow will bring. Think about the humbling power of the future. Not even tomorrow, necessarily, but the simple concept of “future” in general. I am—as I said in this journal somewhere before—“temporally blind.” I cannot see one second in front of my face. I am walking like a blind man into every coming moment. Intuition, experience, logical cause and effect are like my cane, tapping on the unseen ground ahead of me, but none of these are infallible, there may be a low hanging ledge that appears with no warning, etc. What a gift this is! What a gift not to know what the future holds!
What a mercy that we cannot see what’s coming, that we do not know what’s ahead……Why a gift? Why a mercy? Because, what would you do in, say, a raft when the oars are gone and the water is rapid and you are, say, bound and gagged and blindfolded? All you can do is push yourself into a corner and trust wholly in the raft to get you through. It demands a submission of the whole being, an “into your hands I commit my spirit” sort of soul-posture. And that is a gift…..Yes, we are time blind, and this—James says—ought to humble us. Or, actually, James says, to not recognize this is boastful and evil.
Why evil? Why is it evil to think that I know what I’ll be doing today at 3pm? Well, verse 15 gives us a hint when it says,
“Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”
Confidence in my future plans is ignoring at best and opposing at worst the reality that it is the will of another that actually determines my future. Think on that…..its not simply that I am not in control of my future, its that someone else is in control. Glory to God! The point here is not “surrender to fate” or that we are all little drops of water in the great stream of life or some fatalistic view like that, the point here is that we are not in control because Christ (likely the referent of “Lord”) is in control!
Yes, because the will of the Risen Lord determines our future (John 21:22), we betray a spirit of arrogance and rebellion when we—in our monumental ignorance and impotence—presume to know what we will or will not do in the future. This, James says, is evil because it is, essentially, an attempted power grab from the Lord.
But consider what a glorious reality we are invited into! We are invited—even commanded—to recognize that the will of Jesus Christ is the controlling and decisive factor in every future moment of our lives! What hope! What joy! What confidence! What peace! The will, the desire, the purposes, the heart of the one who I meet in the gospels, of the one whose Name is made known to me in the infinite love of the cross, the one who lives forever having overcome the world, my King, my Brother, my High Priest, my Shepherd, the Joy of all desire, this great Lord authors our every future moment………Could there be a more beautiful hope for the human soul than this?
And this does not mean no horror…..remember that James begins his letter by acknowledging the reality of trials of many different kinds that believers will face. And if tradition is correct, James himself was thrown from the temple and martyred. Jesus is not afraid to write very, very hard chapters in the lives of His beloved ones, and our hope is not that we will be spared such chapters……no, our hope is simply that it is Jesus who writes them……His heart is so beloved by our souls, so trusted by our whole being, so desired by every longing that we—by grace and with joy—submit ourselves utterly to the good purposes of His will. He cannot and will not author a tragedy….not a final tragedy……no….He swallowed tragedy into Himself on the cross and, by the eucatastrophe of his resurrection, has proven ultimate reality to be “Comedy”—that is to say—this story ends with Joy.