It’s that time of year. We reflect on the past and anticipate the year ahead — some of us with excitement, some with apprehension. In years past, I remember chafing at the fact that I couldn’t know the future. I thought I’d be better off if I had some warning as to what might be around the next corner. I’d prepare. I’d perform more adroitly through the trial or joy if I knew what was to be expected of me.
But not any more.
It all changed one foggy morning, somewhere in the middle of the exhaustion-blurred years of our son’s cancer treatments. I remember looking out the window at a dreary winter landscape and saying out loud, “Lord, I don’t want to know.”
I don’t want to know. The future. The next ten minutes. The next hour. It’s all too heavy for me. Will you carry it all, Lord? Will you give me the steady, steadfast ability to stay in the now? Will you give me the power, even after these dark days pass, to stay where you told me to stay? For you made it really clear that we should trust you for every moment:
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. (James 4:13-16)
For in a moment-by-moment trust of God with our needs, in the choosing of devotion to Him above all else, a desire to stay in the now — and the subsequent ability to do so — grows:
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:34)
This day, I want to rest in God’s arms of care. For I don’t know what today will bring. I also don’t want to arrogantly plan for tomorrow as if I am my own god. For it’s in quiet trust — in the not knowing — that the opposite of what we’d expect is found: the blessing of security, held in His love-filled arms.
So as New Year’s fireworks and New Year’s plans and New Year’s resolutions become what those around us talk of in the next few days, I want any New Year’s resolutions or plans I make to be superimposed by one over-arching statement:
“If the Lord wills, I will live and do this or that.”
Make that commitment with me? Memorize the verse — “If the Lord wills, I will live and do this or that.” Ask God to bring it to mind on days when you scurry about, planning and fretting as if a secure future depends upon you. When you find yourself worrying, think of the verse and meditate on its truth in this way:
- If the Lord wills, I will live and do this or that = God rules. He wills. I am put in my place. I become smaller, He becomes bigger. I’m to trust Him.
- If the Lord wills, I will live and do this or that = He rules with omnipotent power, so I can rest. No plan of His can be thwarted, and He only plans for my good. He’s got everything under control. I can trust Him.
For God alone is perfectly faithful, and He alone acts with un-thwarted power in our lives. He cares for our new year with sovereign resolve. So we, in return, can live in a posture that lacks chafing at, or fear of, the unknown future.
We can think of the year to come with freed, open-hearted trust. No fear for tomorrow, no need to know. We are carried by the One who is Faithful: He’s trustworthy beyond our boldest imagining.
And because we are loved by God, who holds tomorrow, we’re freed from the anxiety-filled weight of needing to know. We’re freed, instead, to rest — with gladness — in a posture of not knowing what the new year (or tomorrow) brings.