I have a number of irritating weaknesses. One of them is that I have loads of useless lyrics from pop songs in the 1970’a and 1980’s in my brain.
“We are only making plans for Nigel; Nigel’s future is as good as sealed. We are only making plans for Nigel; Nigel’s future is with British Steel”. That’s an XTC song from the 1980’s – not even a song that I particularly liked, but it has somehow stuck in my brain, and whenever anyone talks about plans, I always say “we are only making plans for Nigel.”
And it has been in my brain a lot the last week or so because of the number of times when people have said to me “well I have no plans for tomorrow”. We used to have our lives completely mapped out, didn’t we? We had our diaries, we had plans for what we were going to do today, tomorrow, next week, and suddenly it’s all gone. Many of us have evenings free, many of us have weekends free, many of us have every day free. What are you doing next week? Well anything – it’s a very different world.
And it reminds me of a scripture in James, where James speaks of the arrogance of humanity, thinking that we could plan out our life. And we’ve suddenly discovered that we thought we had control of our lives, and we thought we could plan it, we thought we could decide what we could do tomorrow. And we have discovered that we don’t have control, we can’t make plans. James says these words in chapter 4:13-15
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, do you 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 your ought to say, “if it is the lords will, we will live and do this and do that.”
So, I have been thinking about how each day is a day to say, “Lord what would you have me do”? and in the past, I would have planned out my days, my weeks, my months and my years. All my plans, all my ideas, all what I want to do. And I would ask God to get involved, and to bless it, and to make it work out somehow or other, and suddenly all that has gone away, and we are stripped back to our vulnerability.
We are like the mist as James said – We are not as powerful, not as strong, not as in control as we think, and perhaps we made ourselves God. Perhaps we thought we could control our destiny. And James says you don’t know what tomorrow will bring, and he was right now, what we need we need to do each day is to say, “Lord what would you have me do”? “My plans are not as high as your plans, Lord what would you have me do today?”
It could be scary that we don’t have plans for next week, it could be scary that we don’t know what the future brings. But maybe that’s a place of relationship and dependence with God that is good for us to be in. We don’t know what tomorrow brings, but we walk through tomorrow with God. So, we say “What would you have me do Jesus”?
We walk through every day with him.
He is our God.
We don’t know what the future brings but we do know who is with us today.
“We are only making plans for Nigel. Nigel’s future was with British Steel”, but British Steel is long gone. And the irony of that song was that there was meant to be security, and his parents were trying to plan his life and make him safe, so his future was going to be with British Steel, but British Steel went bust. And whatever we plan if we plan it without God it will come to nothing. We might build big barns and fill our lives with stuff, and as Jesus reminds us in a parable – God says you fool.
Every day we can say “Lord Jesus what would you have me do, I want to do your will, not my plans but your will. I’m not the God of my life, you are. Your will not my will today”.