The Master Editor – James 4
You’ve probably heard the quote, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” It’s not a Bible verse, but I think I’ll vote for it when the next translation comes out. However it could be a contender for a loose paraphrase of James 4:13–15:
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. [Don’t hold back, James. Tell us how you really feel.] Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but James isn’t exactly a beat around the bush guy. In other places in this chapter, he calls his readers adulterous, double minded, greedy, slanderous, judgmental and hypocritical. So what if he happens to be right? He could at least try to say it nicely.
But there is something about v.13-15 that grips me. I don’t care if God is going to wreck my plans, I am still going to make them. As a first born planner, it’s just the way I’m wired. However when I look back, I reluctantly realize that my “wrecked” plans have actually been the ones for which I’m most thankful.
–There was that broken engagement I kicked and screamed my way through… which led to the marriage of my dreams five years later to a different man.
–The broken relationships I grieved with my first fiancé’s kids… that paved the way for the beautiful relationship I now have with my husband’s son.
–The thwarted move into a new house and a new life… which positioned me for a pastoral call and a move to Santa Barbara.
(Let’s just say there are worse places to live.)
Of course there was also the pain of circumstances that didn’t turn around. But that pain contributed to the fabric of my life in a way I never could have imagined. And a new book will be coming out this Summer because of it.
I guess one way to look at James 4:13-15 is to think of God as your editor. He isn’t writing your life story for you, but he certainly is writing it with you.
All authors realize their editor is the invisible force behind their book.
Editors don’t write your words, but they have veto power over them. And they usually determine which words make it in the book.
This might be one way to understand how it works with God.
And when we look back and consider the exquisite work He’s done so far, we may be willing to trust him more for our future chapters.
That, I do believe, would make James happy.
And I’m guessing it would do the same for God.
Laurie Short (formerly Polich) is a speaker, associate pastor, and author of fourteen books for students and youth workers. This year, she’s releasing her first non youth ministry book, called Finding Faith in the Dark (Zondervan, 2014.) The subtitle is “When the Story of your life takes a turn you didn’t plan,” which is a pretty good description of Laurie’s life. Single for 48 years, Laurie married and became a mom in 2009. (Her stepson was six when she married). Her experience with singleness, marriage and (now) motherhood allows her to speak to women on a variety of levels.
Laurie is passionate about God’s word, and hopes this site will help women uncover new insights from familiar (and not so familiar) passages of Scripture. She has a Masters from Fuller Seminary, works part time at Ocean Hills Covenant Church, and balances the rest of her time as an author, speaker, wife and mom. (Don’t all women have five jobs?) LauriePolich.com.