When Our Schedules Hurt Us

Sam Petitfils 

“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? Foryou 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.’”  James 4:13

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright recalls an incident from his youth that helped him throughout life. The winter he was 9, he went walking across a snow-covered field with his reserved, no-nonsense uncle. As the two of them reached the far end of the field, his uncle stopped him. He pointed out his own tracks in the snow, straight and true as an arrow's flight, and then young Frank's tracks meandering all over the field. "Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the fence to the cattle to the woods and back again," his uncle said. "And see how my tracks aim directly to my goal. There is an important lesson in that."

Years later, the world-famous architect liked to tell how this experience had greatly contributed to his philosophy in life. "I determined right then," he'd say with a twinkle in his eye, "not to miss most things in life, as my uncle had."

Of course, Wright probably overstated his case and indeed his uncle was not too wide of the mark. But it does bring out a compelling point: Sometimes we inadvertently schedule God out of our daily living. I recall during the 1980’s the growing popularity of “day planners,” sophisticated calendars that would map out our lives to the hour and sometimes to the minute. I knew people who swore by these helps and an entire industry grew out of them. I remember asking myself whether we were overscheduling our lives to the exclusion of God’s will.

The point of the passage above in James 4 is that we need to bring up even routine things before God, and not presume upon the future. We cannot make accurate forecasts of the future, nor can we take for granted where we will be in a year’s time. God ordains whatsoever comes to pass and orders events in wisdom. We walk in wisdom when we bring before Him our earthly schedules and ask for His guidance. While much of life may appear routine and unimportant, we still need to ask God for guidance and direction each day. Here are some points of application:

1) Never presume upon the day and suppose we can predict most outcomes.
Life brings many twists and turns, and we set ourselves up for disappointment if we think we can project all outcomes and base all our decisions on those projections.

2) Remember that God is Lord of our schedules.
We need to bring our schedules before God and ask, even invite, His direction. Some people build in such inflexible routines into their lives and make no room for God’s will. God then reminds us that He still rules, and sometimes upends our beloved schedules in order to bring about much good.

3) Always accepts God’s wise intervention.
We should consider it a mercy when God breaks us free from courses that would harm us. We should rejoice when God “inconveniences” us by introducing “wrinkles” in our schedules from time to time.

Don’t get me wrong; even Lloyd Wright needed to schedule many things, such as contract meetings, building inspections, delivery of materials, etc. We, too, need to keep obligations and fulfill responsibilities in a timely manner. But we need to bring our lives before God and ask Him for clear direction and guidance. Let’s not “plan” Him out of our lives.


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