"Consecrating our Uncertainties"
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.”
“I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep,” wrote the late poet Mary Oliver. The dark fuel of ambition is our anticipation of control, the sense that with enough planning, preparation, fevered execution we can bend the world to our own expectations. She’s right to call such thinking “voodoo.”
Every morning for decades I’ve made a list of all the things I expect to accomplish over the coming days, ordered by their urgency or importance. I don’t think the apostle James is suggesting that all my plans and efforts are bad, merely that they are tiny. Jesus says as much in Luke 12 with the parable of the rich farmer whose big plans for prosperity were rendered small when God interrupts: "'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.” (Luke 12:20)
Really very little from life or scipture supports any notion that I am in control of much. This doesn’t mean I no longer plan, but I try and do so with the cheerful clearheaded-ness of one who realizes that day to day experience is often beyond our knowing, and God has created us to experience life through the faith-demanding lens of uncertainty.
But this liberates us perfectly for the kingdom risk-taking we have committed ourselves to this year at TFC. Since I don’t truly know what tomorrow will bring, when I embrace a kingdom-advancing risk, I am not adding uncertainty to my life; I am merely consecrating that which is already there to His will.
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