We Will Move...When the Cloud Moves: Part TwoWednesday, May 23, 2012
Part Two: What NOT to Do While Waiting in Transition
The saints who were led by pastor James, the brother of Jesus, lived in difficult transition times. Having been chased out of Jerusalem and scattered all over the place due to persecution, probably by King Herod and/or the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem (covering the events between Acts 7-12). No doubt during these difficult days the believers were tempted and tried in all manner of ways. One such temptation was a self-confidence making of plans, but in a way that didn’t acknowledge or submit to the sovereignty of God. I can definitely put myself in the sandals of those believers on this particular issue.
There’s a strangeness to waiting that puts one in a constant feeling of limbo. You just never seem to know for sure what you should do. One day you think you get some clarity on something and you begin to pursue it. Then a day or two later it all turns foggy as the very nature of transition and its various elements begin to cloud your thinking. The strong confidence you had about something one day turns to a wishy-washy feeling of doubt, confusion and discouragement one or two days later. One day you think you’re going to go here or there, and within the week it’s so totally changed and you know everyone’s looking at you thinking you’re so flaky and you can’t make up your mind.
James knew this was definitely going on the minds, hearts, and lives of his dear people. So he wrote to them about it, and we find it in the final verses of chapter 4 in his letter.
Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there for a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.
Wow. That hits me like a rock from David’s slingshot, right between the eyes, dropping me hard, face down on the ground…which is where I need to be anyway. When our mission with the church plant here was completed, I distinctly remember telling our core group, “We’ll be moving on up to Atlanta later this summer, even if we haven’t sold our house yet.” Unbelievable. I fell right into that trap. The air was thick that night with my pride and self-confidence. I wanted to lead these people well, and I wanted to be a model of someone who was well-thought-out on the matter, and had already lined up a plan. What an idiot.
There was not a hint that night of a submission to and trust in God’s sovereignty. James 4 was nowhere on my “radar.” There was just evil boasting. What a way to lead people, huh? But we’ve repented since then. Thank God for grace, right? He has forgiven us and given us many more opportunities in the last three months to obey that passage in James and to truly mean it when we say, “If the Lord wants us to, we’ll move to Atlanta this summer, hopefully before school starts, if the Lord provides a job for me.” I’ve tacked phrases like “Lord willing” on the end of my plans for years. But I’m not sure I really meant it…or deeply understood the implications. Several verses before, James told his people, “God opposes the proud, but favors the humble” (v. 6). There’s the root of the teaching. Pride stimulates us to make plans without regard to God’s sovereignty. Humility reminds us of our place in God’s bigger picture.
Read the entire series here in one document.
About the Author: Rob is a entrepreneur in Statesboro, GA, where he envisions and pursues missional-shaped business for the kingdom. He and his wife Sherri have been married for 18 years and together have three sons and a daughter. Rob believes the mission of the gospel is summed up in four simple phrases: know God, obey Jesus, make disciples, and plant churches. This is the pursuit of his life, as well as the point of his blog.