March 6, 2001
Elisabeth Elliot (missionary & author) wrote, “Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now.”
This remarkable woman was asked how she managed her time. She said, “I do the next thing. You almost always know what that is. If you do the next thing, you will be okay.”
Some people work hard to control their future. They scheme and manipulate to ensure everything happens the way they want it to happen. Others chase astrology and crystal balls to find out their future, as if knowing it will help them be ready for what is coming. Most of the time, I’ve so much to do today that there is little time to plan ahead. The future is coming but so is today’s deadlines, or my family for supper, or that dratted next appointment.
Whether strained to keep up with today or anxiously concerned about the future, Christians can take comfort that God promises to guide each of us day by day, step by step. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Job put it like this, “But he knows the way that I take. . . .” and David wrote in Psalm 139, “You know when I sit and when I rise. . . You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.”
A Christian proverb reiterates: “We don’t know the future, but we know the One who holds the future.” Cliche or not, God does know what lies ahead but instead of telling us the details, He holds out His hand and invites us to follow Him around the obstacles and through that maze called life. Being ignorant of what lies ahead offers us a great opportunity to trust Him.
The Apostle Paul was on a journey to take the Gospel to Asia. With his helpers, he “tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.”
Paul’s plans were thwarted. They were good plans but God had another idea. The next line reads, “During the night, Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’”
That next morning, Paul “concluded that God had called them” to another destination so changed his plans and went to Macedonia where God blessed his ministry.
This week is filled with things to do but this advice applies to me also. I could make my plans and be annoyed at anyone or anything that interrupted them. But Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”
Lord, I’ve noticed many times that when I make my plans and commit them to You, then I see how You use interruptions to refine those plans. When I keep my hand in Yours and follow where You lead me, Your directions are far better than any plan I can make. Thanks for knowing “the way I take” but also for taking me along that way.