It’s 6AM on a Monday morning – September 9th of 2019 to be precise. I’m sitting in the home office of our new rental home in Greeley, Colorado. We just moved in this past Friday.
In two hours, I’ll be picked up for my first day at my new job by my new supervisor.
I’ve been awake since about 2AM.
My wife and children are all asleep still. My dad – who helped us load and drive and then unload the Uhaul – is also here, and I presume still sleeping in the basement.
Yesterday, my four older boys and I followed my brother and his family and my dad up into the mountains west of Loveland, Colorado for a drive that was supposed to conclude with grilling hotdogs. Instead, the clouds let loose with a downpour of rain and lightning, and we had to turn back on the rock and dirt trail at the exact point we had planned to stop and cook out.
Things do not always go according to plan. And maybe that’s why I’ve been awake since 2AM.
For instance, we had a probable renter lined up for our home in Sidney, Montana. Then we thought he would possibly buy the home. Then he backed out entirely.
We had another probable renter lined up, but I learned on Saturday that he too has since decided to go another direction.
The Best Laid Plans
Things do not always go according to plan, nor even as you expect and anticipate they will. But, alas, that is life.
And I should clarify. Life does not always, nor even often, go according to our plans and expectations. But life does always go according to God’s plans and promises.
Indeed, the admonition of James from the New Testament letter that bears his name has been on my mind more than usual the past several weeks.
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
Alright then. If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.
If the Lord wills, I said to myself weeks ago, we will move to Colorado and I will start a new job. And it came to pass that the Lord willed. So we lived and did this.
And if the Lord wills, we will spend a year here and trade and make a profit.
But if I pray, as Jesus teaches his disciples to, “thy will be done,” then I must content myself with the possibility that my personal expectations will be surprised – sometimes delightfully, other times disappointingly.
The Great Commission
Along the lines of what the Lord wills, have you ever considered that what we Christians refer to as “The Great Commission” has as a chief element the command to go?
Yes, yes. Tell me to be careful putting too much emphasis on that solitary word. And yes, I understand that obedience and faithfulness sometimes means staying put. Rest assured my objective is not to challenge such assertions.
However, we must recognize that when the Lord bids us go, obedience and faithfulness require we not stay.
Consider what the history of the church would be, supposing there would be one at all, if the disciples had stubbornly insisted on remaining in Jerusalem or Judea when the Lord said to go.
When he told them to stay, their task was to stay. But when he told them to go, they were to go.
Just so for us, I believe.
Now to that some may scoff that the Lord doesn’t work that way anymore. But why wouldn’t He? And who says He doesn’t? And what do those people know anyway if they make such claims?
Whatever it is to such scoffers, I will persist in my conviction. The Lord does still work that way.
And when the Lord bids us stay, we must stay. When He bids us go, we must go. And the reason for this is intimately related to the first thing about life not going according to our plans and expectations, but always going according to God’s.
“If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” This should be our mindset and attitude toward change, both in the challenges and the opportunities.
Life is Messy
Over the past week, I’ve taken pictures of various moments in the moving process. I’ve set up spaces around the house, then stood back to admire my handiwork, an Instagram or Facebook post following shortly after.
And there’s been a sudden uptick in reactions from friends and family to my social media activity. My wife and I and our seven children moving away from Eastern Montana, and to Greeley, Colorado – this has gotten a lot of attention. And I think loved ones enjoy seeing that we’re settling in nicely.
Yet for every picture I might post of furniture and decor staged in a nice new home in Colorado, I could have taken at least a dozen more of apparent chaos.
Nobody saw the picture of our dining room table still missing its legs because we have yet to find the bolts in our unpacking.
No one read the screenshot of the text message from the contractor I was expecting would install new tile in our kitchen and bathrooms saying he is now on bed-rest on account of his back.
And you can be sure Lauren and I refrained from taking any selfies of us exhausted from the 600-mile drive, eyes bloodshot as we checked into our hotel at midnight, nor our greasy and disheveled hair and sweaty faces after unloading the truck and unpacking as many boxes as we could muster.
But real life is messy like that. At least mine has been so far.
And whatever I might plan or expect to come from it moving forward, I am convinced of this simple truth. The Lord God reigns over all, and we should rejoice in His goodness, grace, and provision.
And “if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”