Our national weather service predicts a milder than usual winter. On the other hand, the farmer’s almanac warns of a very severe winter. Weather prediction is an inexact science. This is in spite of circling weather satellites, planes that fly through the eye of hurricanes, a century of recorded data, and a detailed understanding of high and low pressure systems. Earth is just too big, the sun too unpredictable, and variables too many to expect anything more accurate. Nevertheless, we enjoy generally helpful forecasts. We plan trips. We plant crops. We carry an umbrella or wear a parka. We buy ice-melting salt for our driveway. And when forecasters miss the mark, we can all have a field day blaming them. Such fun. Think for a moment about forecasting our lives, that is, making life choices based on what we think will happen. We expect our retirement funds to increase by x percent so we can plan a cruise next year without cutting into our equity. Then the market tanks. We schedule a picnic for Saturday but it rains. We start a business selling a hot commodity but its popularity wans and we lose our investment. We plan to drive to New York but our car packs it in. Fortunately, life is not quite so uncertain. (Unless we live in Iraq or Syria or the Ukraine.) We should plan. And when our plans go awry, we should pick ourselves up, adjust our plans and press on with perseverance. But there is a lesson here.
“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, you do 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 you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’”(James 4:13-15).
James reminds us that it is arrogant to declare what we will do without qualifying it. It used to be much more common among Christians to write, dv, that is, Lord willing after declarations. We have come far in our modern world of engineered marvels and tech advances but we have not banished uncertainly and never will. God is the only one who knows with certainty what the weather will be tomorrow in Bongo Bongo or Boston. The Triune God, alone—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—knows your future and mine. No wonder, those who understand reality, have humbly prayed from the beginning of time for the Lord to guide them. “The Lord is my shepherd…he leads me”(Ps. 23:1,2). “Our Father in heaven…lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”(Matt. 6:9,13). Hundreds of years before Christ came, the Holy Spirit perfectly guided the prophets to predict the place of Jesus’ birth and scores of other facts. May the Lord guide you and I at this Christmas season. Let us entrust him with our futures.