Some wisdom from James (chapter 4 verses 13 to 17).
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.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
In James’s vision forward planning must carry the label “If the Lord wills”! Certainly St Paul would agree (Acts Chapter 18 verse 21). “Man proposes God disposes” was a familiar saying of yesteryear. It underlined some understanding of the sovereignty of God in all our affairs.
Certainly this was a week when we were conscious of just how little control we have over our activities. A routine visit to the doctor ended up with Betty having five days in hospital. The garden and greenhouse were left to their own devices! The dog spent some fruitless hours looking for her!! The cuisine took a downward turn with many complaints from Tess until I got her food portions right. She will be a happy dog when Betty comes home at the weekend!
The Chemist’s assistant recommended “The Power of Positive Thinking” the book, was written back in 1992 by Norman Vincent Peale and is still popular today. It is a classic in wishful thinking! It aims at eliminating negative thoughts and visualising solutions to your problems. Trouble is that you have to keep doing it and never get off the treadmill.
A better plan would be the power of negative thinking. Now that would keep most of us busy! But instead of becoming depressed you take up Jesus’s invitation to “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (St Matthew Chapter 11 verses 28 to 30).
It all hinges on your coming to Jesus. All that he requires is that you leave your sinful thoughts and deeds with him. He has already taken the ultimate burden when he died in the sinner’s place and his blood purified us from all our sins (1 John Chapter 1 verse 7). When you leave your guilt and shame with him you cannot take it back as he has purged them. They are gone for good.
So, as St James says, now that you know the right thing to do – do it.
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