James 4:13-16 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.
There is an old saying around our neck of the woods: “If the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise.” We say this when we have made plans with intention of carrying those plans out. For example, I am going out of town tomorrow with a friend if the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise. I’m going to start a new job tomorrow if the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise. Or perhaps, I’m going to start a new diet and exercise plan tomorrow if the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise. You get the picture. I know that this isn’t correct grammar, and I am a grammar Nazi, but still it as an old familiar saying, and I have said these very words many times myself.
Last night our creek rose. We live on eighty acres, and a little creek called Whitesand Creek runs through our property. Our back deck overlooks the creek. Most of the time, it is shallow enough to actually walk across. Oh, you would get wet if you did, but you wouldn’t drown. The water flows gently by with a comforting sound that I have enjoyed so much through the years. However, if it rains a lot and the rain comes down fast, the creek swells. Our house is up high, and praise God, our home has never flooded. It would take a monsoon for the water to reach our home, but our driveway, well that is another story. Our driveway is about a half a mile long, and there are two different culverts along the drive in which natural branches of water from the creek flow through. When we get a lot of rain in a short period of time, the driveway floods. This morning, we are flooded in. The creek has risen. The driveway is flooded. My husband ventured out to check the water company that he operates only to call me back and tell me not to leave the house. He said the water nearly came over his hood of his truck as he drove down the driveway. Yes, the creek has risen, and I’m going to stay put for a while. I actually don’t mind that one bit! I am off today for the first day this week, and I’m going to enjoy the little bit of time while the creek has risen!
I didn’t really have anything away from the home planned today so I’m actually okay with my current situation. Yet I started thinking about that old familiar saying: if the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, and I started thinking “if the good Lord is willing it doesn’t matter if the creek rises or not.” We are in the habit of making plans. I don’t know about you, but I am a planner. I am a researcher. I like to know all of the details of the events that I am going to attend. I begin researching and planning out a family vacation months in advance. I like to have a plan. My husband on the other hand is a fly by the seat of your pants kind of guy. I plan, and he just goes with it. Planning gives me comfort. However, I’ve learned over and over again that it doesn’t matter how well I plan things out, if it isn’t God’s plan, it isn’t going to happen, and if it is God’s plan, it WILL happen. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the level of the creek or the amount of detail in the planning. If it is God’s will, you can’t stop it, and if it isn’t God’s will, you can’t make it happen.
I don’t think that making plans is a bad thing. Plans are actually good, but rather than saying if the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, perhaps we should only say if the good Lord’s willing because if it is His will, it shall be. James explains this clearly. We can make all of the plans that we want, but those plans must include the Lord. We must pray for His will in our lives, and then the plans that we make will be within His will. Let His plans become our plans. Let us make plans according to the will of our Father. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. James 4:16
Don’t worry about the creek rising up to foil your plans, but rather invite the Lord into your planning process and let Him lead you.