Lord Willing

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Reflections on James 4:13-17

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring – what your life will be! For you are like a vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So it is sin to know the good and yet not to do it.”

James 4:13-17, CSB

I recently studied through the book of James. This short epistle has been one of my favorite books of the Bible for years. I am a practical thinker by nature, and it is chock-full of practical applications teaching us how to live out our Christian faith. It was penned by a man named James, who was the half-brother of Jesus. James also led the church in Jerusalem at the time this was written. He wrote to Jewish Christians. That’s why it is written with the assumption that the reader is a follower of Christ. He primarily addresses the question of what it means to live in the world as a believer. Many in his original audience, like many of us today, attempted to keep one foot in the world, while halfway acknowledging Christ as Lord. They were believers, saved by faith in Christ, but they clung to their ways of life before submitting to the Savior.

While I could write a book about how God has used the book of James to shape and teach me, I am going to focus on James 4:13-17. During this last reading of the book, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes and convicted me deeply, especially regarding this passage.

How often do we say “Lord-Willing?” Why do we think it’s ok to say “Lord-willing” in the same way we say things like “Knock on wood?” Reading this passage of Scripture leads me to ask – Do I really desire the will of the Lord above my own? Or do I say this, thinking that if I don’t, my plans may not come about? Why do I feel the need to “throw God a bone” when I’ve already decided what is going to happen and how? Is this a genuine prayer of my heart or a superstitious mantra I say, fingers crossed, wishing my desired plans will come to fruition?

Making plans and preparations is not sinful. It is important to be mindful of the future and be faithful stewards of what God gives us. However, putting our assurance and confidence in those plans becomes our downfall.

I love plans. I like making the plan and seeing it through to the end. I like to be in control of the plan. When plans are not concrete, or they change constantly, it makes me crazy. During stress-filled seasons of my life, being forced to change the slightest detail of a plan (especially one I created) can send me into a tailspin.

I know I am not alone in feeling this way. What is the real problem here? So what? I like things to be organized, and I like plans to be made in advance and honored in the moment. My problem is that, far too often, my hope rests in that. The sense of control I desire is not control I will ever have or need. When I feel my perceived control slipping through my fingers, I hate it. This visceral, instinctual reaction reveals the true state of my heart. I can say that I truly desire the will of God over my own. I can say this to others and even to myself, over and over again until I start to believe it. Then, when things aren’t going as I expected, my heart shows itself. It is exposed for the deceitful, fickle thing that it is.


How do I fix it? I can’t. You can’t. BUT GOD. In Christ, we have blessed assurance. We can rest in the grace of God, who saves us. I don’t need control because my God is SOVEREIGN. He is good and perfect. He is love. He never changes or wavers. He always has been and always will be. Thinking about the character of God makes me realize that He is everything that I am not. I am sinful. Pride and arrogance drive me when I’m left to my own devices. My heart is deceptive, wavering and falling every single day. My life is just a vapor, a brief moment in time. I don’t need control. God in His grace, His kindness, His mercy, His LOVE, is in full control of everything.

I struggle every single day, with this need for control. I’m sure I will until I go to heaven. I pray to the Lord to help me, to forgive me for my arrogance. May I never boast in myself, but only in what Christ did for me!

Our hope is not in ourselves, and for that I am eternally grateful. It’s a deep joy and inexplicable peace knowing that I could never save myself. God saved me, and there is nothing or no one that can change that, including me. I was born a sinner, just like every other person in this world. Through his infinite grace and mercy, God saved me from the death I deserve. Only in Christ do we have true security and peace. Only in Him can we put our unwavering trust, knowing He will NEVER let go.

For everything was created by him [Christ], in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones of dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.

Colossians 1:16-17, CSB

You Don’t Actually Know It All: A Letter to Myself

5 years ago today, I graduated from college. It was such an exciting and joy-filled day, with the sense of relief that it was over tangible in the air. As I reflect back over the last 5 years, I am amazed at the grace and mercy of our great God. In many ways, the person I am today and the person I was when I crossed that stage are two very different individuals.

Reminiscing on my college years feels like looking back on someone else’s life.

When I think back over my college experience, like everyone, I feel some nostalgia. I think fondly of fun times and making new friends. In many ways, though, college was a difficult time for me. Like most people who go away to college, I was suddenly away from home, learning some very difficult (but extremely valuable) lessons.

It all came to a head my senior year, 2014-2015.

I was lost. In my own selfish pride, though, I was completely blind to it. I was in a state of constant stress. I barely slept, and when I did sleep I didn’t rest. (My poor roommate didn’t sleep much either, unfortunately.) I had fits in my sleep and night terrors that would rival the scariest horror movie you’ve ever seen. I was constantly exhausted and riddled with stress, and the people around me had to endure it. I was consumed with myself and having control over everything. I sought comfort in making the world around me, and the people around me, fit into my very specific expectations.  If anything was out of place in my apartment, I couldn’t handle it. If people didn’t respond to me like I expected them to, I came unglued. I blamed everyone around me for my problems. I was completely unaware of myself and unwilling to look too closely. I knew something was not right, but I didn’t want to face it. Instead, I carried on that way, trying to keep up a façade, and be someone I was not. I hated myself. I would lash out at someone I cared for, someone who was a good friend to me, then later when I was alone, cry my eyes out. I felt so overwhelmed with guilt. I felt guilt about things that were not even about me. That’s insane, right? Yes, it is. Instead of apologizing, I pushed those people further away, attempting to soothe my self-inflicted wounds by clinging to my pride and perceived control.

I was so consumed with myself and the image I portrayed to others that I didn’t recognize the root of the issues. Satan whispered terrible things to me constantly, about myself and the people around me who tried to encourage me. He tickled my pride, convincing me that I was right, and everyone else was wrong. It didn’t matter about what, just that I was right. I chose to believe those things instead of believing God when HE tells me who I am, and WHOSE I am.

Now, 5 years later…

I could not have dreamed up this life I now get to live on that day 5 years ago. In these 5 short years, God’s grace brought me more than I could have asked or imagined. A few months after I graduated, I started working as a ministry assistant at Ingleside Baptist Church in Macon, GA. I worked there for 2 years, and I will always think back on those years with fondness. The Lord used the people I met there and the work I got to do to help shape me into the person I am today. I learned so much about myself, the character of God, and the amazing grace we have in Christ. I met my husband Daniel at Ingleside.

November 2017 – I got to marry the best man in the world. He started school in August 2017, studying to be a PA at Emory University in Atlanta. After our wedding, I moved to Atlanta with him, where we still live now. We live in the heart of the city, and we get to serve at an amazing church – M28 Church. I work at the North American Mission Board, and Daniel works as a Physician Assistant at a local hospital.

If you described my current life to me 5 years ago, I would have laughed in your face. I greatly underestimated the peace and joy that comes from deeply trusting my Father and resting in His grace. Darkness and sin had a serious hold on me. I was convinced that I had to figure it all out, convinced that I knew better than anyone, including the God who created me. (Can I insert an eye-roll at myself here?)

Today, I am exactly where God wants me to be, and that feeling is indescribable. I am far from perfect, but I can rest in the salvation I have in Christ. I don’t often look back on that girl, walking around campus in 2014-15, stomach in knots, head full of doubts and fears, anger driving everything she did and said. It’s painful, and part of me wishes that part of my life was different. On the other hand, though, I’m thankful for the trials of this life. I certainly do not enjoy them, but God uses those seasons of life, those moments of darkness and pain, to shape me more into the image of my Savior. Friend, if you are in a valley season, lift your eyes to Heaven and praise God for it. Thank God for His sovereign grace.

I thank the Lord that His plans are infinitely better than mine.