Karen and I have a strange dream—we want to be homeless.
Well, at least sort-of homeless. We want to sell our home when we retire, buy a larger Camper and live in it full time. We want to downsize, simplify, and serve.
We talk of this and pray for this as if it meant a financial windfall, when actually, it means just the opposite. The real reason for it all is to live on less and hopefully, do more for the Kingdom of God.
Now while this dream seems noble and we are truly exited about this possibility a few years down the road, there's a HUGE caveat attached to it. James describes this caveat this way:
"Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.' 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:13-17, NLT)."
There's so much to say about this passage. Let me do my best to list the details of the caution James gives to all of us "planners" out there:
1. James isn't condemning the idea of plans, he's merely pointing out that it's foolish to plan without consulting/considering God's will. Making a profit, serving in a ministry, downsizing or up-sizing--none of these are "bad" per se. What James condemns is the idea that we'd do these things without consulting and then following God.
2. Based on the whole counsel of scripture re. free moral agency, we should NOT suppose that God is going to "force" His will on us and thus conclude that it's silly to plan. Rather, we should see that we have a choice to either seek and pursue God's leading or our own. Since we don't know the future, James says it's silly to do too much planning because it might all be for naught. On the other hand, it's just as foolish to make no plans and just "go with the flow," expecting that God will in essence "make us" do His bidding. Seeking God's direction and THEN planning--that's a winner (See Prov. 3:5-6, Deut 28:19, etc.)!
3. Pride re. our plans or future "good deeds" is foolishness. Worse, it takes away our witness. We need to rightly, and humbly, acknowledge that God can change our direction at any time and that we've surrendered our will to His (See Luke 22:42). Along these lines, I hate to hear people pray, "OK God, we're doing this, but if you don't want it, just 'shut the door." That's a cop-out. Instead of seeking God, we're going ahead with our prideful will and expecting God to intervene in order to stop us. Why not seek and listen to Him in the first place. Often, I've witnessed Him letting people pursue and even attain their selfish goals, only to end up with an empty, unfulfilled experience. Better to hear Him, then plan, then act....
4. Once God reveals his will/plan to us, we must obey. Avoiding a good call to service is sin even if it contradicts our "plan." Karen and I have to recognize that God may use our plan to allow us to teach, preach, write, etc. in different churches or ministry outlets around the country. On the other hand, he may lead us to a place where he wants us to stay. Whatever the case--we are His and must obey His call.
So will our hero and heroine be homeless? Time will tell, but we think so. We believe we've received some confirmation from the Lord on this. In any case, we seek to hear God's voice and focus on His call...thus, we expect good results.
To that end,