If the Lord Wills. . .
It is right that we make plans as we seek to carry out the will of God in our life. While we must not be anxious or worry about the future (Matt. 6:25-34), yet we may properly look to the future and take steps to head in a predetermined direction (Rom. 1:13-15; 15:22-29; Acts 19:21; 1 Cor. 16:1-9; 1 Thess. 2:18; Tit. 3:12; Phile. 22).
Scripture, therefore, does not condone a complacent, careless, or haphazard attitude toward life. It cannot be rightfully used to justify a spirit of indifference toward our future days on earth. Christ Himself walked through life according to God’s “predetermined plan.” He knew His purpose for coming to earth and was intent on carrying out this divine mission (cf. Luke 4:43; Mark 1:38). We, too, should walk in His steps by going through life with our eyes fixed on the eternal goal to which we journey.
As we make both small and large plans through life, we must always take into account that God may have something else in mind for us. All of our plans must be subject to the will of God. Although Christ our Lord was infallible in His understanding the plan of God for His earthly life, we cannot say the same about our understanding. Although we can know that it is always God’s will that we obey Him and His directives, we may not know the specifics of how to plan for the future. In all of these areas, we must subject our plans to the approval and direction of God who knows what is best for us. The apostle Paul is an excellent example for us in this regard. He often made tentative plans–but many of his plans (as well as his wishes and desires) were not fulfilled. God chose to change some of them or alter them in some way (cf. Acts 16:6-10). Paul learned to subject his will and his plans to God. We must do the same.
It would be edifying for us to notice some of the Scriptural statements that indicate a subjection to the will of the Lord. You may find it helpful to look up the statements in their original context. Hopefully this will help you to make plans (for tomorrow, next week, next year, or beyond) according to the will of God. A verbal acknowledgement of this may well be in order on occasion.
- “And when they asked him to stay for a longer time, he did not consent, but taking leave of them and saying, ‘I will return to you again if God wills,’ he set sail from Ephesus” (Acts 18:20-21).
- “And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, ‘The will of the Lord be done!'” (Acts 21:14).
- “. . . always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you” (Rom. 1:10).
- “. . . I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company” (Rom. 15:32).
- “I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant, but their power” (1 Cor. 4:19).
- “I do not wish to see you now just in passing; for I hope to remain with you for some time, if the Lord permits” (1 Cor. 16:7).
- “And this we shall do, if God permits” (Heb. 6:3).
- “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that'” (James 4:15).
- “It is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong” (1 Peter 3:17).
Let us begin to acknowledge the will of the Lord wherever we are, whatever we do, and whatever we say. Besides acknowledging God’s will in each of our own decisions, this submissive attitude may give opportunity to speak to others about yielding their own life to the will of God!