The Best Laid Plans
In our technological age we have grown so used to simply assuming that what we plan will happen. Trains run – more or less – on time. Flick a switch and the lights always come on. Turn a tap and there is always water. Modern cars rarely breakdown. Schools stay open. Businesses can make long term plans expecting the general economic shape of our society to remain constant. We haven’t experienced war on the shores of the UK since the days of the Blitz.
Things work. Things are predictable. It has been easy (and reasonable) to say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money’ (James 4:13).
That has now all changed with chaos in the financial markets, the closure of public events, and the total impossibility of making any plans for travel. All we do know is that life is likely to be much more disrupted and restricted over the coming weeks. We can make plans for this (we’re war gaming various scenarios at my church, as I expect is also happening at your church) but we know any plans we make will be subject to rapid change.
James’ warning, ‘What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes’ (James 4:14), has often rung hollow in a world where we are able to plan with confidence. Now it rings clear. That is a good thing. If CV19 teaches us to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’ (James 4:15), we will actually be in a healthier place.
The world we have created tends to make us very arrogant. We feel we are in control because of the general predictability of our systems and services. But really we are not. CV19 is humbling us. It is teaching us not to ‘boast in your arrogant schemes’ (James 4:16). For that we should be thankful – and seize the opportunity it affords us to proclaim the good news of an unshakeable heavenly Father ‘who does not change like shifting shadows’ (James 1:17).
Like James, this is a time to proclaim: ‘Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded’ (James 4:8). Our plans are flimsy: His are immovable.